Meteorology

Friday, September 19, 2008

Meteorology is the scientific study of the atmosphere as it focuses on weather processes and forecasting. Meteorological phenomena are observable weather events which are explained by the science of meteorology. Those events are bound by the variables that exist in Earth's atmosphere. They are temperature, pressure, water vapor, and the gradients and interactions of each variable, and how they change in time. The majority of Earth's observed weather is located in the troposphere. Interactions between Earth's atmosphere and the oceans are part of coupled ocean-atmosphere studies. Meteorology has application in many diverse fields such as the military, energy production, transport, agriculture and construction.

In the study of the atmosphere, meteorology can be divided into distinct areas of emphasis depending on the temporal scope and spatial scope of interest.

Boundary Layer Meteorology: Boundary layer meteorology is the study of processes in the air layer directly above Earth's surface, known as the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) or peplosphere. The effects of the surface – heating, cooling, and friction – cause turbulent mixing within the air layer. Significant fluxes of heat, matter, or momentum on time scales of less than a day are advected by turbulent motions. Boundary layer meteorology includes the study of all types of surface-atmosphere boundary, including ocean, lake, urban land and non-urban land.

Mesoscale Meteorology: Mesoscale meteorology is the study of atmospheric phenomena that has horizontal scales ranging from microscale limits to synoptic scale limits and a vertical scale that starts at the Earth's surface and includes the atmospheric boundary layer, troposphere, tropopause, and the lower section of the stratosphere. Mesoscale timescales last from less than a day to the lifetime of the event, which in some cases can be weeks. The events typically of interest are thunderstorms, squall lines, fronts, precipitation bands in tropical and extratropical cyclones, and topographically generated weather systems such as mountain waves and sea and land breezes.

Synoptic Scale Meteorology: It is generally large area dynamics referred to in horizontal coordinates and with respect to time. The phenomena typically described by synoptic meteorology include events like extratropical cyclones, baroclinic troughs and ridges, frontal zones, and to some extent jets. All of these are typically given on weather maps for a specific time. The minimum horizontal scale of synoptic phenomena are limited to the spacing between surface observation stations.

Global Scale Meteorology: It is the study of weather patterns related to the transport of heat from the tropics to the poles. Also, very large scale oscillations are of importance. Those oscillations have time periods typically longer than a full annual seasonal cycle, such as ENSO, PDO, MJO, etc. Global scale pushes the thresholds of the perception of meteorology into climatology. The traditional definition of climate is pushed in to larger timescales with the further understanding of how the global oscillations cause both climate and weather disturbances in the synoptic and mesoscale timescales.

Dynamic Meteorology: Dynamic meteorology generally focuses on the physics of the atmosphere. The idea of air parcel is used to define the smallest element of the atmosphere, while ignoring the discrete molecular and chemical nature of the atmosphere. An air parcel is defined as a point in the fluid continuum of the atmosphere. The fundamental laws of fluid dynamics, thermodynamics, and motion are used to study the atmosphere. The physical quantities that characterize the state of the atmosphere are temperature, density, pressure, etc. These variables have unique values in the continuum.