Other Instruments

Meteorologists have sophisticated apparatus for forecasting the weather. Satellites orbit the earth, their cameras scanning the surface for weather patterns. Large systems, which can harbor thundershowers, tornadoes, high winds, heavy snows, or other adverse conditions, have a characteristic signature that the meteorologist recognizes immediately.

As a storm system approaches a weather station, the meteorologist can look at it with a radar set. Large balloons, equipped with instruments to measure temperature, humidity, pressure, wind direction, and wind speed, can be sent aloft to detect atmospheric changes that indicate approaching or developing weather systems. Aircraft pilots can fly their aircraft near (or even into) a storm and see for themselves how bad it is. Meteorologists all over the region, the country, and the world share information, and from this combined effort intricate diagrams are made, showing the locations of air currents, temperature regions, pressure zones, and other parameters.

Atmospheric Circulation

The earth's atmosphere is a complex system that is in continuous motion. Patterns emerge on all scales: planet-wide, hemispheric, regional, and local. The behavior of the atmosphere in any given location also varies with altitude above the surface.

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