Wessel Wessels

Author Archives: Wessel Wessels

Lifelong weather enthusiast and researcher. Interested in all things weather-related, and how global climate and local weather interact. Owner of multiple home weather stations for almost two decades, but still learning and expanding his knowledge base every day. He is dedicated to sharing his expertise and knowledge to get more people involved and interested in both their local and global weather and how it interacts with climate on a worldwide scale. Love sharing my knowledge on home weather stations, how they work, and the many ways you can use them to your advantage. All in all, he is just a bit of weather nerd.

Weather Thermometers: What They Are And How They Work

How Do Weather Stations Measure Temperature heading

Most of us are familiar with thermometers and know they measure temperature. The weather thermometers used by meteorologists work on the same principles, but there are some subtle differences.

A weather thermometer is a meteorological instrument that measures and displays the ambient air temperature at any given time. The most well-known thermometer is the mercury or liquid-in-glass thermometer. Bimetal thermometers & more recently introduced digital thermometers are also widely used.

We get cold in the winter and warm in the summer and dress accordingly. You know the sensation of an ice-cold drink after spending time in hot weather. You also know the welcome relief of a warm beverage after having to spend some time in ice-cold weather.

So yes, we are all very aware of the temperature and how it influences every aspect of our daily life. After all, why do we spend every night or early morning listening or watching some form of weather forecast to prepare for the day?

But have you ever considered how temperature is measured in the first place? Did you know that there is actually more than just one form of temperature and a wide variety of different ways of measuring it?

The type of temperature we are focusing on in this article is air (ambient) temperature. More specifically, we will be looking at the different ways in which weather stations measure and collect ambient weather.

What Is Ambient Temperature?

Before going any further, let's first get a clear idea of what exactly ambient temperature is.

Just to avoid any misunderstanding, the temperature we are defining here is the temperature as it is observed and described in meteorological (weather) terms.

ambient temperature

Ambient temperature can be defined as the average temperature of the air in your environment. Outdoor ambient temperature refers to the temperature of the air in the environment outside any confined spaces. (In other words, atmospheric air temperature.)

Indoor ambient temperature refers to the average air temperature within your home/office. (Referring to air temperature within confined spaces). Ambient temperature is NOT the actual temperature of any specific object or its surface temperature.

Depending on the field you study or work in, ambient temperature may have a few different meanings. It is very often used in the computing industry. Here ambient temperature refers to the air surrounding electronic components.

(The amount of heat generated by computer components is essential, as it can have a direct effect on the reliability and longevity of systems critical to our safety and everyday lives.) 

A variety of different devices are used to measure ambient and other forms of temperature. To get a clear overall picture, we will first take a look at the broad spectrum of thermometers used to measure temperature in their respective fields. 

We will then turn our attention to the instruments specifically designed to measure ambient (air) temperature.     

The Different Types Of Thermometers And How They Measure Temperature

The instrument that is used to measure temperature is called a thermometer. Before delving into the different types of thermometers, one first needs to define exactly what a thermometer is.

Depending on their method of measurement or what type of temperature they measure, these devices may be called something completely different. However, in reality, they are all some form of a thermometer.

For the sake of getting a thorough overview of all the devices used in temperature measurement, it is necessary that we first take a brief look at the different thermometers used to measure all forms of temperature. 

  1. 1
    Clinical Thermometers
  2. 2
    Glass / Mercury Thermometers
  3. 3
    Digital Thermometer
  4. 4
    Tympanic Thermometer
  5. 5
    Pacifier Thermometer
  6. 6
    Forehead Thermometer
  7. 7
    Laboratory Thermometers
  8. 8
    Food Thermometers

The best way to do this is to sort them under the main categories in which they will be used to measure a specific temperature:

Clinical Thermometers

Clinical thermometers are used to measure the temperature of the human body. It is, therefore, primarily used in the healthcare industry.

1) Glass/Mercury Thermometers 

This is arguably the oldest and most trusted method of measuring temperature. It consists of a liquid (usually alcohol or mercury) that expands in a glass tube as the temperature increases.

The length to which it expands depends on the temperature. It is usually placed under the tongue or rectum (in the case of babies and animals.) After about 2 minutes, the thermometer is removed, and the temperature, as indicated on the glass tube, is measured.

Although replaced by digital thermometers in many cases, glass thermometers remains a reliable and accurate way of measuring temperature and are still used by many healthcare practitioners.

Glass/mercury thermometers are also widely used in the field of meteorology. Therefore we will take a more in-depth look at how this form of temperature measurement works later on in this article.

2) Digital Thermometer

medical digital thermometer

Unlike a glass/mercury thermometer, a digital thermometer needs an electrical power source (battery) to function. It uses the resistance created by a temperature-sensitive metal when an electrical current is passed through it to make a measurement.

(A resistance thermometer is the name given to a device using this form of measurement.) 

The body's temperature is taken using the same methods as a mercury thermometer. The difference is that this device alerts you when it finishes measuring the temperature, and the result is shown on its digital display.

As resistance thermometers are also widely used to measure the weather, we will also take a much closer look at its inner workings later on in this post.

3) Tympanic (Ear) Thermometer

The eardrum and surrounding area are close to the brain and are an accurate way of determining your body temperature. It is a very sensitive organ, though, and can easily be damaged.

Therefore, extreme care should be taken to use any invasive form of device to measure the ear's temperature. The safest and most effective thermometer to use in this case uses infrared sensors to take a thermal reading in and around the eardrum remotely.

Medical professionals widely use an instrument called a thermopile for this very purpose. It makes use of infrared technology and is a safe way to measure the temperature of sensitive areas of the body like the eardrum. 

4) Pacifier Thermometer

This type of thermometer is aimed for use in babies and toddlers, where other forms of measurements are challenging to perform.

It is basically a digital thermometer encased in the shape of a dummy. This allows the baby to suck on it, giving it enough time to take a reading.

Due to the amount of insulation and space between the actual thermometer and the body, pacifier thermometers are not very accurate. This makes them adequate for home use. Should any serious concerns arise, however, a physician should be contacted as soon as possible.

5) Forehead Thermometer

A forehead thermometer is an electronic handheld device using infrared technology to measure the temperature of a patient's forehead. It is arguably the least invasive way of taking the body's temperature.

forehead thermometer

Also known as a temporal artery thermometer, the device is briefly placed against the temple area of the forehead where the temporal artery is located. After just a few seconds, the result is shown on a digital display.

(There is a "non-touch" version of the forehead thermometer where the device is simply aimed at the area of the forehead just above the eyebrows, and a measurement is taken.)

These devices have the advantage of being quick, accurate, and non-invasive. Compared to other thermometers, they are quite expensive, though.

Laboratory Thermometers

Laboratory (or scientific) thermometers are thermometers that are designed to measure temperature with a high degree of accuracy.

As the name suggests, they are used in controlled environments in various scientific laboratories and research facilities worldwide. It is due to the nature of their use that they need to be extremely accurate. 

laboratory thermometer

For example, they are often used in critical medical trials or the design of lightweight materials for the aviation and space industry. The smallest error in measurement can lead to fatal mistakes and material failure.    

Another attribute that sets them apart from other thermometers is the ability to measure extreme temperatures. The different processes they are used in sometimes involve temperatures exceeding 1000° Celsius or dropping to well below freezing point.

The pyrometer is one such thermometer designed to measure extreme temperatures. It is a remote sensing device that measures the amount of thermal radiation of an object to determine its temperature. Its ability to measure thermal radiation from a distance allows it to calculate extreme temperatures without being anywhere near the object it is measuring.

Laboratories and research institutions use a variety of thermometers, many of which I already mentioned. This includes glass/mercury, infrared, and resistance thermometers. 

Additional types of measuring technologies like bimetallic strip thermometers and thermocouples are also widely used in laboratories, and I will cover them in detail later on in this article. 

Food Thermometers

As you've already seen in the previous sections, many different thermometers are used in a variety of fields. When it comes to food, it is pretty much the same story.

There are quite a number of categories food thermometers are organized in. Since we are starting to venture very far away from the main focus of this article, weather thermometers, I am going to keep this section brief and narrow it down substantially.

food thermometer

I created three general categories under which I feel most food thermometers can be listed. I then proceed to mention the most relevant thermometers used in each section quickly.

Since most of them use technologies also used in weather thermometers, I will just briefly name them without going into any description or explanation. 

(We will be examining and describing the specific technologies in detail when we look at weather thermometers in the next section.)

Let's take a quick look at the different types of food thermometers.

1) Thermometers Safe To Leave In Food While Cooking

These thermometers are designed to be kept in the food while cooking to monitor the temperature throughout the whole process, whether inside or on top of the stove.

They are designed to withstand cooking temperatures for sustained periods.

These include dial oven-safe (bimetal) thermometers, disposable temperature indicators, oven probes with chords, and pop-up thermometers. 

2) Thermometers For Use Use Before Or After Cooking

These thermometers are designed to measure food after cooking or when removed from the heat source for taking an interim measurement. 

They are less robust than the thermometers designed to be kept in the food while cooking and are not intended to stay in the food throughout the whole cooking process.

These include digital instant-read (thermistor) thermometers, dial instant-read (bimetal) thermometers, thermometer-fork combination, and thermocouples.

All right, by now you will have a good idea of the vast number of thermometers and the different fields and industries in which we use them. They are even commonly used in the consumer and automotive industry. (Cars, motorcycles, refrigerators, and air-conditioners are just a few examples.)

This section focused on the different types of thermometers and their use, but the following section addresses this article's main subject: weather thermometers.

The Different Types Of  Weather Thermometers And How They Work

The majority of different thermometers were already covered in the previous section. However, since the focus of this article is weather thermometers, we will examine each one in much more detail and explain the way they work. 

What Is A Weather Thermometer?

A weather thermometer is a meteorological instrument that measures the ambient temperature of the air at any given time. The most well-known thermometer is the mercury or liquid-in-glass thermometer. Bimetal thermometers & more recently introduced digital thermometers are also widely used.

1) Mercury-In-Glass Thermometers

Mercury-in-glass thermometers are arguably the oldest and most widely recognized type of thermometer still used on a global scale today. It was invented by Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit in 1714 in Amsterdam.

mercury thermometer

The thermometer consists of a glass bulb containing the mercury. A thin glass tube is attached to the top of the bulb.

The empty space in the thermometer is filled with nitrogen or some other gas with a pressure less than that of the normal atmospheric pressure. This allows space for the mercury to expand or contract within the tube.

As the temperature increases, the mercury starts to expand and push up in the narrow glass tube. Similarly, when the temperature decreases, the mercury contracts, and its level drops in the tube.

The glass tube has calibrated markings on it (or next to it), displaying the temperature in Fahrenheit or Celsius, depending on the system of measurement your country uses. (Sometimes both are indicated on or next to the tube.)

Advantages And Disadvantages Of A Mercury-In-Glass Thermometer

Like all other thermometers, mercury-in-glass thermometers also have their own strengths and weaknesses you should be aware of.

Advantages

  • Mercury-in-glass thermometers are simple to use and read.
  • They do not need any additional power source to operate.
  • Mercury has a high boiling point.
  • These thermometers are fairly inexpensive compared to other thermometers.
  • They have a high degree of accuracy.
  • Mercury-in-glass thermometers are durable and will last you for years.

Disadvantages

  • Mercury is toxic and can cause pose a danger if the thermometer breaks.
  • Mercury has a high freezing point, rendering them useless in extremely cold conditions.
  • They cannot remotely transmit their data since no electronics are used in the device.

The alcohol-in-glass thermometer is a cheaper and less dangerous alternative to the mercury-in-glass thermometers. It works on exactly the same principle as the mercury-based device but has a few advantages.

First of all, it is not poisonous, and as a result, much safer to use than mercury. It is also much cheaper and has a lower freezing point, making it usable in extremely cold conditions.

On the flip-side, they are not as accurate as mercury-in-glass thermometers. They also have a lower boiling point, reducing their usability in very hot conditions.

I am a firm believer in the trusty mercury-in-glass thermometers. I also honestly believe any self-respecting weather professional or enthusiast should own at least one.

2) Bimetal Thermometer

Chances are pretty good you may have already seen a bimetal thermometer (sometimes referred to as a dial thermometer) at some point in your life. 

Classic old dial thermometers were often neatly inserted into engraved wooden casings with an analog barometer installed above or below it and hanged against the wall.

dial thermometer

The technology is hardly new. It dates back as far as 1759, when it was developed by clockmaker John Harrison. It has withstood the test of time and is still used today. 

This mainly due to its robustness and reliability, which makes it uniquely suited for use in the industrial and automotive environment. It is also still used in some dialed based thermometers to measure air temperature.   

As the name suggests, a bimetal thermometer consists of two different strips of metals bonded together.  Each metal responds differently to changes in temperature.

In a dial thermometer, the bimetal strip is in the shape of a coil, with one end fixed into place. The other end is connected to a measuring device like a needle.

As the ambient temperature changes around the metal strips, one of the metals will extend or contract in comparison with the other metal strip.

This contraction/extension will cause the needle (or any other form of indicator) to move on a calibrated scale, displaying the calculated air temperature.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of A Digital Thermometer (Thermistor)

The technology used in bimetal thermometers may be one of the oldest still used in modern times but is still very relevant today due to some specific advantages. It comes with its fair share of disadvantages, though.

Advantages

  • Bimetal thermistors cover a wide range of temperature ranges.
  • They are very robust and reliable.
  • Due to their mechanical nature, these thermometers do not need an external power source.
  • They have a simple working mechanism and are relatively inexpensive as a result.

Disadvantages

  • Bimetal thermometers are not as accurate as many other modern weather thermometers.
  • They need to be frequently calibrated to maintain an adequate amount of accuracy.
  • Bimetal thermistors have a slow response to changes in temperature.

Bimetal thermometers are playing an almost insignificant role in modern-day meteorological instrumentation and measurement. Its significance and relevance should not be ignored, though, even today.

3) Digital Thermometer (Thermistor)

Digital weather thermometers use a component called a thermistor to measure and display ambient temperature and are used in a variety of digital devices, including weather stations.

Digital Thermistor Thermistor

A thermistor is a specific type of resistor where the level of electrical resistance is dependent on the air temperature.

As the temperature change, the resistance in the thermistor changes. This causes a change in the strength of the electrical current flowing through the thermistor. By measuring the strength of the electrical current, the temperature can be calculated.    

There are two types of thermistors, and a distinction should be made between them. They are the Negative Temperature Coefficient (NTC) and Positive Temperature Coefficient (PTC) thermistors and reacts in different ways when exposed to ambient temperature.

  • Negative Temperature Coefficient (NTC) thermistors show a decrease in electrical resistance as the air temperature increases.
  • Positive Temperature Coefficient (PTC) thermistors show an increase in electrical resistance as the air temperature increases.

Thermistors can measure temperatures from -90° Celsius (-130° Fahrenheit) to 130° Celsius (266° Fahrenheit). It is incredibly accurate within this temperature range, making it ideal for measuring the smallest change in ambient temperature.

The Three Types Of Digital Thermometers

There are actually three different types of digital thermometers that can be used in a weather station.

Due to their accuracy, quick response time, and affordability, thermistors are used in the vast majority of home and professional weather stations.

Just to get a quick overview, the three digital thermometers are:

1. Themistors:

The best choice for a weather station and already described in detail here.

2. RTD:

The Resistance Temperature Detector (RTD) works much like a thermistor by using the resistance in the RTD to measure temperature. Unlike a thermistor, it uses a pure metal, usually platinum, wrapped around a glass core. In most cases, the whole assembly is protected within a protective probe.  

2. Thermocouples:

This type of thermometer uses two wires, each made of a different kind of metal. They are welded together to create a junction. It is at this junction where the temperature is measured. A change in temperature produces a voltage that is measured and converted into a temperature reading.

In theory,  all three digital thermometers can be used in a weather stadium. Due to their nature and capabilities, thermistors are just generally the best choice for use in weather stations.

Resistance Temperature Detectors and Thermocouples are much more suited for use in the industrial and commercial industry, as well as in scientific research and testing facilities.

As the section above highlighted, a thermistor can be seen as a type of resistance thermometer (RTD), as it also uses the impact of changes in temperature on the resistance of a component to measure ambient temperature. 

We must make a clear distinction between the difference between the two, though. First of all, even though the range of temperature that a thermistor can measure is more limited than that of an RTD, it can make much more accurate readings within this range. 

Secondly, an RTD is made from pure metal like platinum (or sometimes substituted by copper or nickel). A thermistor, on the other hand, is made from semiconductor materials like polymer and ceramics.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of A Digital Thermometer (Thermistor)

I made a strong case for why the thermistor is the best type of digital thermometer for use in most meteorological applications. That does not mean it is not without its weaknesses.

Let's take a look at both its strengths and drawbacks.

Advantages

  • The accuracy with which thermistors measure temperature overshadows that of other thermal sensors.
  • It responds very quickly to changes in temperature, allowing it to display and make rapid adjustments.
  • Their ability to make and record multiple measurements make them invaluable for use in remotely located weather stations.
  • Thermistors are relatively inexpensive compared to other digital thermometers.
  • Their compact size allows thermistors to be used inside a wide variety of components like outside weather sensors.

Disadvantages

  • Thermistors do not have a broad temperature range as that of some other thermal sensors, making it unsuitable for some use some heavy industrial environments. 
  • The non-linear resistance-temperature characteristics of a thermistor can be a drawback.
  • A thermistor requires a power source to operate. This requires maintenance on a more regular basis than a thermometer like a mercury-in-glass thermometer, which can operate completely maintenance-free.
  • They are self-heating, which makes them prone to producing errors.

It is obvious why the thermistor plays such a big role as a weather thermometer, especially for use in home and professional weather stations. 

We highlighted its many advantages in this section, and although it is not without its drawbacks, it is by far the digital thermometer of choice for use in measuring ambient temperature in weather stations. 

There are other technologies used for measuring temperature, but are so rare and almost never used that there is no need to pay any attention to them in this article.

Now that we covered all weather thermometers in detail and you know how each one works, all that is left to do is to see which one is used in what type of weather station. 

The Thermometers Used In Different Weather Stations

In the previous sections, we covered a wide variety of thermometers used in old and new weather stations. To stay relevant, though, we will now mainly focus on thermometers used in modern weather stations. (Even though "old technology" thermometers are still very popular and widely used in many modern weather stations.)

Let's first take a look at the thermometers commonly used in home weather stations before turning our attention to professional weather stations.

1) Home Weather Station Thermometers

Liquid-In-Glass Thermometers

liquid in glass thermometer

Whether using mercury or alcohol, liquid-in-glass thermometers remain a firm favorite among weather enthusiasts. It is inexpensive and doesn't require an external power source to operate.

It is also very accurate and easy to install and read. Just hang it inside or outside your home in the optimum location, and you are all set.

(You also have the option of choosing a minimum-maximum thermometer, which allows the device to display both the minimum and maximum temperature of the environment over a given time.)

Digital Thermometers (Thermistors)

With the introduction and growth in popularity of digital home weather stations, the thermistor became the thermometer of choice in almost every single home weather station.

Like already mentioned, it is compact in size and very accurate. This makes it ideal to be placed in both indoor weather display consoles as well as outside sensor arrays.

The fact that it requires power to operate (which a digital home weather station already provides) also allows it to measure, record, and send multiple readings to a base station.

High-quality thermistors are used in the vast majority of high-end home weather stations. The Ambient WS-2902 I am using as my primary home station use thermistors for both the outdoor sensor array and the indoor base station. 

To find out more about the Ambient WS-2902 and how a typical home weather station works, you can read the in-depth article here.

2) Professional Weather Station Thermometers

The type of instruments used in home and professional weather stations are pretty much based on the same technology and principles.

The real difference comes to the surface when we look at the accuracy and consistency with which measurements are taken.

Both of the above depends mostly on creating a stable environment for measuring ambient temperature, which brings us to one of the workhorses of professional meteorology.

The Stevenson Screen

Probably the most critical part of measuring the different elements of the weather is to create an environment where the most accurate measurement can be taken. This is where the Stevenson Screen comes in. 

Stevenson Screen

It is an enclosure of various sizes to house weather instrumentation. It protects the instruments from direct sunlight, rain, and solar radiation.

The Stevenson Screen is also painted white to reflect the heat from the sun and other sources of thermal radiation.

The sides of the housing have a double-louvered design. This protects the instruments from the elements while still allowing air to enter the enclosure. 

The reason for this "open" design is to allow airflow through the enclosure to prevent any heat buildup inside the container. This allows the temperature to be the same as the outside air temperature in the shade. 

Liquid-In-Glass Thermometers

Even with advances in technology, manned weather stations still make extensive use of analog glass thermometers.

When you open a Stevenson Screen at a professional weather observatory, don't be surprised to find more than one glass thermometer sitting alongside a thermistor or RTD.

They are not just a very accurate and reliable way of measuring temperature but can also be used as a backup and a criterion against which other readings can be measured.

Comparing the readings from all the different thermometers also allow meteorologists to obtain a very accurate final reading.

Digital Thermometers

When making use of a remotely located weather station that is very hard to reach (e.g., a mountain top), it is vital that readings can be remotely sent via a wireless connection.

Thermistor Thermometer

Thermistor Probe For Measuring Ambient Temperature in A Remote Weather Station

This has made the use of analog instrumentation obsolete and has been replaced by digital equipment in the vast majority of remote weather stations.

Durable and accurate thermistors can now be found in most remote weather stations globally. They are not the only type of digital thermometer used in remote stations though...

The Resistance Thermometer Detector (RTD), commonly used in the industrial sector, has found its way into quite a few remote weather stations.

Its robustness and durability make it ideal to be used in harsh environments. A Stevenson Screen is more than big enough to house this instrument, making any size issue irrelevant.  

The fact that it can handle a wide temperature range also makes it ideal for use in environments with extreme temperatures. (It is already being used by many meteorological services throughout the world.)  

Conclusion

In this article, you did more than just learn about the different types of thermometers used in weather stations. You received a proper overview of thermometers in general and the various industries they are used in.

The focus remained on weather thermometers, though, and by now, you should have a deeper understanding of each weather thermometer, as well as the various mechanisms that make them work.

Never miss out again when another interesting and helpful article is released and stay updated, while also receiving helpful tips & information by simply  following this link .

Until next time, keep your eye on the weather!

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The 5 Layers Of The Atmosphere – Their Composition, Characteristics, And Importance Explained

5 Layers Of The Atmosphere heading

While looking up at the sky on a cloud-free day, one will see what looks like a continuous piece of blue sky. But actually, the atmosphere consists of five distinct layers, each with its own characteristics.

The 5 Layers Of The Atmosphere

Space Shuttle Against Backdrop Of The Different Layers Of Atmosphere

The Space Shuttle With The Different Atmospheric Layers In The Background.  

  1. Troposphere
  2. Stratosphere
  3. Mesosphere
  4. Thermosphere
  5. Exosphere

In this article, we take a closer look at each of the five layers, their composition and characteristics, as well as their importance and the role they play in protecting the planet.

To provide a global picture and avoid confusion, the diagram of the atmosphere with all five layers below will help you to orientate yourself at any time.

Diagram Of The Atmosphere

Diagram Of The Atmosphere And Its 5 Layers

The Troposphere

The troposphere is arguably the most important layer of all for us humans. This is the layer we all live in, and also the layer that supports all other forms of life as well. It is also the layer in which almost all forms of weather occur. 

Troposphere

Composition Of The Troposphere

The air in the troposphere contains all the elements necessary for all forms of life to exist. It also contains the vast majority of water vapor on the planet. (More than all the other layers in the atmosphere combined.)

To be more get a better picture, let's take a closer look at the specific elements that make up the air in the troposphere:

  1. Nitrogen (78.08%)
  2. Oxygen (20.95%)
  3. Argon (0.93%)
  4. Carbon Dioxide (0.04%)
  5. A Variety Of Smaller Gasses

Every one of these elements plays an important role in creating an atmosphere conducive to supporting the existence and growth of life on earth. (And this includes carbon dioxide, which got a really bad reputation as a result of its role in global warming due to its rapid increase. It actually plays a vital role in the survival of plant life.) 

As I already mentioned, the troposphere also contains more water vapor than all the other layers combined. To be more precise, 99% of all water vapor is concentrated in the troposphere.

The importance and advantages of water are too many to get into detail. It is a vital source of hydration for humans (our bodies consist of 60% water after all) and animal life. It is also essential for all forms of vegetation to grow and flourish.

water and weather

Water also plays an important role in regulating temperatures around the world. This aspect of water is closely related to one of its most important functions, which is to form and regulate weather systems on a global scale. Without water, the occurrence of weather in any significant form will simply be impossible.

We should also never overlook the importance of the behavior of temperature & air pressure in the troposphere. Both show a steady decline as height above the earth's surface increases.

The Earth gets heated from the bottom up. The sun heats the earth's surface, where the highest temperatures can be found. It then starts cooling down as its height increases. The temperature keeps dropping and reaches temperatures as low as -55° Celsius (-64° Fahrenheit) at the troposphere's upper limit.

Similarly, the air pressure is at its highest at the surface of the planet, where the gravitational forces are at their strongest. As the particles in the air are pulled closer together, the air is much more dense as a result. 

As the air increases in height, the gravitational forces become less, and the air density starts to drop. At the upper reaches of the troposphere, the air is so thin that breathing becomes almost impossible. (This is the reason why mountaineers scaling high mountains often need some form of breathing apparatus to breathe.)

Characteristics Of The Troposphere

Starting at the surface of the planet, the troposphere reaches an average height of around 7-12 km (4-7 miles). This height is not constant, though, and varies depending on your location on earth.

The troposphere is at its highest above the tropics (reaching heights of 20 km or 12 miles at the equator). Over the polar regions, it reaches its lowest point (as low as 7 km or 4 miles).    

The height of the troposphere also varies from season to season as a result of the difference in temperature, which directly influences the troposphere. This is most obvious during the winter and summer months over the mid-latitudes.

During summer months, the warmer temperatures cause the air to expand, which causes an increase in the height of the troposphere. During the winter months, the colder temperatures cause the air to contract and make it more dense, causing the height of the troposphere to decrease as a result.

At the top of the troposphere, you will find a thin layer called the tropopause. This layer forms the boundary between the troposphere and the lowest part of the stratosphere.

Very often, you will see the top of a big storm cloud flattening out, giving it its familiar anvil shape. This due to the fact that the updrafts in the storm cloud bump into the tropopause & lower parts of the stratosphere where the air temperature is warmer than the air below it.

As, a result the cloud cannot expand any further in height, and starts expanding out horizontally at the border between the 2 layers.

Importance Of The Troposphere

We will all spend our entire existence on this planet in the troposphere. (Except, of course, if interplanetary travel and colonization become possible and viable within the next few centuries. Something I seriously doubt for some reason if I look at the rate of progress of space exploration attempts over the last half-century.)

astronaut

And no, commercial pilots and astronauts don't count, as they literally spend a fraction of their lifetimes outside the troposphere. On top of that, that period of time is spent inside an artificially created environment that mimics that of the troposphere. In other words, technically, they are still in the troposphere.

The reason why the troposphere is so important is that it contains all the vital elements that make it possible for life on earth to exist. I already covered that in the previous section, but it's worth summarizing why it is so important.

The most 2 most important aspects of the troposphere that make life on earth possible are:

1) Necessary Gasses

I already mentioned the primary gasses the troposphere consists of. (Nitrogen, oxygen, argon, and carbon dioxide.) It also contains trace elements of neon, helium, methane, krypton, hydrogen, and off-course, water vapor.

All these gasses play an important part in keeping us alive. Oxygen allows us to breathe, and carbon dioxide is essential for plant life. All the other gasses have some role to play in the formation, protection, and preservation of so many forms of organic and inorganic objects, to mention just a few functions. 

2) Weather

Weather is just as important for life to exist on earth. Naturally, it requires water vapor, of which 99% resides in the troposphere.

The advantages of weather should be obvious, but here are just a few examples:

Creates Seasons: This is important as seasons (winter, spring, summer, autumn) helps to regulate and balance the planet's temperature, rainfall, and air movement.

Provides Rainfall: This is not only important to keep human and animal life hydrated by keeping bodies of water full, but also moisturize the soil, which keeps vegetation (including crops in the agricultural sector) growing.

Creation Of Winds: This an often-overlooked advantage of the weather. First of all, winds are responsible for moving weather systems above the planet's surface. A second very important function of wind in our modern world is its "cleansing" effect. Strong winds are responsible for clearing away impurities that might have formed in the air above certain locations. This includes the volcanic cloud particles above a volcano, the dense fog at coastal regions, smoke, and smog that accumulates over urban areas.  

As important and critical as the troposphere is, it cannot function on its own. It needs the other layers in the atmosphere to function properly. It is time to move on to the second layer of the atmosphere.

The Stratosphere

The stratosphere is situated just above the troposphere, only separated from it by a thin transitional layer called the tropopause, which contains a a mixture of both layers. 

Stratosphere

Composition Of The Stratosphere

The stratosphere contains very few of the elements found in the troposphere. The majority is broken down by sunlight or deposited back to the planet's surface via rain.

Temperature inversion takes place between the troposphere and stratosphere. (An increase in temperature with height.) This also contributes to making the exchange of air between the 2 layers virtually impossible.

By far the most important element present is ozone. The stratosphere contains the biggest concentration of ozone of all the layers. 

Air is extremely dry in the stratosphere, as water contained in the air and clouds is trapped in the troposphere. (With almost no air exchange between the 2 layers, as already mentioned.) This means basically no form of precipitation takes place from the stratosphere.

The air continues to get less dense as height increases, leading to air in the stratosphere to be about a 1000 times thinner than at the sea level.

Characteristics Of The Stratosphere

The stratosphere starts at a height just above the troposphere and reaches as high as 50 km (30 miles) above the surface of the earth.

Almost no weather occurs in the stratosphere, although big storm clouds (in the form of supercells containing cumulonimbus clouds) occasionally punch through the tropopause and reaches lower parts of the stratosphere.

Temperature Inversion

One of the main characteristics of the stratosphere is an occurrence called temperature inversion. 

Temperature inversion occurs when the temperature rises as the height above the earth's surface increases. (This is the direct opposite of what occurs with the air temperature in the troposphere.)

Starting with an average temperature of -51° Celsius (-60° Fahrenheit) just above the troposphere, it starts to increases in temperature, reaching an average of -15° Celsius (5° Fahrenheit) close to the mesosphere. 

One of the most important functions of the stratosphere, though, is the presence of the very important ozone layer within the stratosphere. This layer of ozone protects the earth from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun.

A very simple way of explaining how the ozone layer protects us is to see the ozone layer as a gigantic filter. It allows the less harmful longwave UVA radiation through while absorbing the more dangerous shortwave UVB & UVC radiation. This is done through a process called the "ozone-oxygen cycle."

The ozone layer gained fame and came to the forefront a few decades ago when a hole in the layer was discovered over the Antarctic. Through a process called ozone depletion, large amounts of ozone were reduced in the stratosphere.

It was mainly caused by CFC gasses, commonly used in refrigerators and air conditioners at the time. An international ban on the use of CFC gasses was issued, and since then, the ozone layer has made a significant recovery.

(On an interesting note, as necessary as the ozone layer is for protecting the Earth from the sun's harmful UV radiation, it is actually quite harmful to us humans. It is can cause a variety of respiratory problems and permanently damage your lungs when inhaled.)   

Importance Of The Stratosphere

By far the most important attribute of the stratosphere is the fact that it contains the ozone layer that is so vital to all life on earth. (It has already been discussed and explained, so no need to explain its importance again.)

The state of the ozone layer is so important that weather balloons are send up on a regular basis to measure ozone levels. Weather balloons are capable of reaching the stratosphere and can also be launched from various regions worldwide.

The readings of the ozone layer in Arctic Regions are especially important. The reason being the fact that the hole in the ozone layer were first discovered over Antarctica. The stratosphere is also at its lowest altitude over the polar regions.

The stratosphere also acts as a barrier or containment layer. It confines the important elements in the air, including water vapor, to the troposphere.

airplane in stratosphere

Jet airliners make good use of some of the attributes of the stratosphere. They fly at cruising altitudes in the lower stratosphere for 2 reasons.

The fact that almost all weather is restricted to the troposphere allows aircraft to fly above the weather in the stratosphere, avoiding turbulence and potential damage in the process.

In the lower stratosphere, the air is also much thinner than in the troposphere, allowing airliners to fly through air with much less resistance. In the process, it saves a significant amount of fuel, which can also extend the range of the airplane.

A thin layer, called the stratopause, forms the border between the stratosphere and the mesosphere. Interestingly, it is within this thin layer that a maximum in the temperature. The combination of warm and very dry air makes clouds formation (and any form of weather for that matter) practically impossible within the stratopause.

The Mesosphere

The mesosphere can be found just above the stratosphere. It is only separated from it by a thin layer of air, called the stratopause, that acts as a border between the 2 layers. (Very much like the tropopause forms the border between the troposphere and the stratosphere.)

With its height making it relatively inaccessible, scientists know much less about the mesosphere than the other layers closer to the surface of the air.

mesosphere structure

Composition Of The Mesosphere

As the majority of meteorites burn up in the mesosphere, it contains fairly high concentrations of iron and metal atoms. (The shooting stars you observe in the night sky are meteorites that vaporize as it burns up in the mesosphere.)

The mesosphere contains the same percentages of gasses that can be found in the troposphere and stratosphere. The air is at such a low density, though, that the actual amount of gasses present in the mesosphere are just a fraction of those found in the troposphere.

Water vapor also continues to diminish as altitude increase. The amount of water vapor present in the mesosphere is so small, it is basically insignificant. 

Ozone is the one element that can be found in abundance in the mesosphere. Despite the fact that the ozone layer can be found in the stratosphere, overall, the mesosphere contains more ozone than the layers below it.

Characteristics Of The Mesosphere

The mesosphere starts at a height of 50 km (30 miles) just above the stratosphere and reaches as high as 85 km (53 miles) above the surface of the earth.

Like the troposphere, the temperature in the mesosphere also decreases as the height above the earth increases. (No temperature inversion takes place, as is the case within the stratosphere.) Near the top of the mesosphere, the temperature can fall to -90° Celsius (-130° Fahrenheit), making it the region with some of the lowest temperatures in the atmosphere.

noctilucent clouds

As weather is for all intents and purposes non-existent in the mesosphere, an interesting phenomenon in the form of noctilucent clouds can sometimes be found at altitudes of 80 km (50 miles).

Consisting out of ice crystals, they provide a spectacular view from Earth around 2 hours after sunset. You can find more about this rare phenomenon in this article.

A dynamic feature of the mesosphere is the presence of zonal winds, atmospheric tides, gravity waves, and planetary waves. These waves start in the troposphere and eventually spreads into the mesosphere.

In the mesosphere, the waves/tides become unstable and dissipate, creating momentum in the process. It is this momentum that drives global circulation to a great extent.

Importance Of The Mesosphere

The mesosphere can be seen as another protective layer of the earth's atmosphere. There are two specific "dangers" it helps to protect us from. Both were already mentioned but needed to be emphasized again.

As I already mentioned, meteorites of various sizes burn up in the mesosphere. It is estimated that a meteorite the size of an automobile enters and is vaporized in the mesosphere every year. (Space rocks smaller than 25 meters (82 feet) are vaporized in this layer before it can reach the Earth's surface.)

Now imagine the mesosphere did not protect us from meteorites, and we are hit by a meteor shower, with hundreds of rocks 20 meters in size reaching the earth's surface at supersonic speeds. 

I don't need to explain what a city like London or New York will look like after being bombarded with meteorites of this size. (We have all seen disaster movies like "Armageddon" that paints a pretty realistic picture of what can actually happen if it wasn't for the mesosphere.)  

The second danger the mesosphere protects us from is the sun's ultraviolet rays. (No, it is not just the ozone layer in the stratosphere.) A combination of ozone and molecular oxygen in the mesosphere protects us from solar radiation with varying wavelengths.

So, as little as we know about the mesosphere, we know enough to realize that it plays a vital role within the structure of the Earth's atmosphere.

As is the case with the troposphere and stratosphere, a small boundary separates the mesosphere from the thermosphere. The mesopause forms the border between the 2 layers.

The relative absence of solar radiation combined with the cooling effect of carbon dioxide in the mesopause makes it the coldest region on earth, with temperatures falling as low as -100° Celsius (-148 ° Fahrenheit).

But we are far from finished. There is yet another layer above the mesosphere that needs to be examined...

The Thermosphere

The thermosphere (sometimes called the Ionosphere) lies between the mesosphere and exosphere. It is only separated from the mesosphere by a thin layer called the mesopause.

From a human perspective, the thermosphere is quite popular and, as a result, one busy place. It plays home to the International Space Station and approximately 800 active satellites.

This off-course this does not include the thousands of pieces of garbage in the form of space debris orbiting the earth in the thermosphere. (Yep, we are not just filling our planet with garbage, but also the space above us, and a very important part of space).

Diagram Of  The Thermosphere

Composition Of The Thermosphere

The air is extremely thin (with almost a zero amount of air density), and gravity almost non-existent in the mesosphere. The properties of air closely resemble that of the vacuum of space as a result.

Since space is seen to start at 100 km (62 miles) above the Earth by many definitions, it is not surprising that the thermosphere is seen as part of space in many circles.

The little air present in the thermosphere mainly consists of helium, atomic nitrogen, and atomic oxygen.

Ions are also created in the thermosphere when ultraviolet radiation causes photoionization of molecules. (This process takes place in the ionosphere, which is spread over the thermospheres and stretches over parts of the mesosphere and exosphere.)

Characteristics Of The Thermosphere

The thermosphere starts at a height of around 90 km (56 miles) and extends up to heights of between 500 - 1000 km (311 to 621 miles). This makes the thermosphere thicker than all the other layers combined.

One of the main characteristics of the thermosphere is the extremely high temperatures that occur within this layer (as the name of the layer would suggest). With temperatures reaching around 2000° Celsius (3632° Fahrenheit), the thermosphere is the hottest of all the layers in the atmosphere by a huge margin.

The temperature is not constant, though. Between day and night, an average difference of 200° Celsius (360° Fahrenheit) can occur. The amount of solar radiation also has a direct influence on the temperature, causing as much as a 500° Celsius (900° Fahrenheit) variation, depending on the amount of radiation.

Ironically, you will not be able to feel these extremely high temperatures. As the air is so thin that it basically resembles a vacuum, there are no particles/atoms in the air to conduct the heat.

As a result of this lack of conduction, you will actually experience cold temperatures. It very often drops to below 0° Celsius (32° Fahrenheit), especially at night.

aurora borealis

The spectacular Aurora Borealis (Northern and Southern Lights) takes place in the thermosphere. The Aurora Borealis is a result of charged particles from the sun colliding with gaseous particles in the thermosphere. This causes the colorful light display people in the Northern Hemisphere are so familiar with. (Green is one of the most common colors created.)

Importance Of The Thermosphere

The thermosphere has mainly 3 great benefits, with one being a very beneficial side-effect.

1) Protection Against The Sun's Radiation

It supports and protects all life on earth by absorbing the majority of the sun's X-rays and extreme ultraviolet radiation. A byproduct of the abortion of solar radiation is the creation of the ionosphere.

The ionosphere is a direct result of the vast amount of ions that are formed within the thermosphere.  When X-rays and UV radiation collide with gas molecules, some electrons are knocked free to form electrically charged ions. And herein lies the side-benefit...

2) Creation Of The Ionosphere

The great benefit of the ionosphere is its ability to make long-distance radio communication possible.

Before satellite and other forms of wireless communication emerged, radio-waves were the only way to communicate over long distances. As it requires "line-of-sight" to communicate, radio waves are limited by the natural curvature of the earth.

Radio operators then discovered the unique characteristics of the ionosphere. The electrically charged ions act as a giant mirror for radio waves. This simply means radio waves can now travel vast distances by simply bouncing them off the ionosphere.

(There are still limitations, and the use of radio waves has been replaced by digital forms of communication in most cases, but it still remains very important and relevant.)

3) The Ideal Environment For Space Utilization & Exploration

As already mentioned, the thermosphere is home to the ISS (International Space Station) and almost a thousand active low orbit satellites orbiting the earth.

The thermosphere's location and environment make it ideal for us to be able to put objects in a permanent (or semi-permanent) orbit in space. 

International Space Station

It is high enough for gravity to have very little effect on a spacecraft, yet still close enough to the earth's surface to use less powerful rockets to reach the thermosphere. This makes it much more affordable and economically viable to use the advantages of space.

(In order for a spacecraft to break completely free from earth's atmosphere and travel into outer space, it needs much more powerful rockets that would have been too expensive to make the launch & maintenance of satellites and NASA's Space Shuttle Program economically viable)

In the future, platforms may be built in the thermosphere that will serve as launching pads for deep space exploration. The thermosphere really provides endless possibilities, especially with the increase of companies from the private sector entering the space arena.

Like all the layers below it, the thermosphere is separated from the exosphere above it by a thin layer. The thermopause forms the last layer below which the atmosphere can be seen as active on the insulation received. This is mainly due to the presence of heavier gasses like monatomic oxygen.

Above the thermopause, you will find the atmosphere's fifth and last layer, the point where the atmosphere truly turns into space...

The Exosphere

Taking the prize as the topmost layer of our atmosphere is the exosphere. It is devoid of all substances, except for a small hint of hydrogen and a few atmospheric gaseous particles spread very apart from each other. 

It can, for all intents and purposes, be regarded as the layer that has all the properties of space and almost none of those of atmospheric layers.

This layer may not play such a vital role in the earth's atmosphere but is still relevant.

Diagram Of The Exosphere

Composition Of The Exosphere

As I already mentioned, the exosphere is almost completely devoid of any substances and atmospheric gasses. This makes the composition of the exosphere resemble that of the vacuum of space very closely. More so than that of any other atmospheric layer.

Mainly due to its inaccessibility and the very little research that could be done as result, very little is known about the precise makeup of the exosphere.

The only elements that can be found in any significant numbers in the exosphere are helium and hydrogen. They are so widely dispersed, however, that their presence is of no real importance or relevance.

Characteristics Of The Exosphere

The exosphere starts just above the thermosphere (and thermopause) at a height of 500 km (310 miles) and extends up to a height of around 10 000 km (6200 miles).

Temperatures are generally very cold and constant. In direct sunlight, it can get very hot and in the shade freezing cold, though. (There are no particles present to conduct heat or cold, which accounts for the extreme temperatures and the generally perceived cold conditions.)

As a result, temperatures vary quite dramatically, from 0° Celsius (32° Fahrenheit) all the way up to 1700° Celsius (3092° Fahrenheit). The biggest temperature difference takes place between daytime and nighttime.

In this vast space, the last traces of elements associated with the atmosphere blends gradually and seamlessly into the vacuum of space. 

Many planets and moons (like Mercury, our own Moon, and the Galilean satellites of Jupiter) have no atmosphere, and all have an exosphere starting at surface level.

Since the last remnants of the atmosphere blend so gradually into outer space, no clearly defined upper boundary can be determined.

Importance Of The Exosphere

The exosphere may not play any significant role in supporting and maintaining life on earth, but as I mentioned in the introduction, it is still relevant.

Hubble Space Telescope

Just like the thermosphere, the exosphere forms the ideal environment for spacecraft to be placed into orbit around the earth.

It has the added advantage of allowing satellites and other objects to be placed in a much higher orbit than communication satellites and the International Space Station placed in lower orbits around the earth. 

This higher orbit allows satellites to get a better global view of various activities on earth. The bigger distance from the earth's surface also minimizes the amount of light reflecting off the planet into the atmosphere to cause any kind of interference.

This is why the Hubble Space Telescope and a variety of weather and other scientific satellites can be found orbiting the earth at this altitude. They are also much safer in the exosphere, as there is a lot less "space traffic" to contend with, as well as more room to maneuver in.

Conclusion

Now that one has a very clear understanding of how many layers are present in our atmosphere, each one with its unique properties, you may never look up at the sky in the same way again.

You will also be able to understand why each layer is so unique and important in its own way. The way weather behaves, the height at which airliners fly, and even where we put our satellites... All should become a lot more clear. 

I trust this article helped you to better understand the complex but fascinating structure of layers that make up our atmosphere. I am pretty sure quite a few facts might have caught you off-guard but in a pleasant and intriguing way.

Never miss out again when another interesting and helpful article is released and stay updated, while also receiving helpful tips & information by simply  following this link .

Until next time, keep your eye on the weather!

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The Difference Between Ice, Snow, And Hail – And How Each One Is Formed

The Difference Between Ice And Snow And Hail heading

They may be similar in some ways, but are actually very different in the way they look and feel, and also the they way they were formed. But what are the real differences between snow, ice, and hail? 

Water in its different solid states develops in the atmosphere as well as on the ground, and there is a multitude of factors involved in its formation. As a result, it can be difficult and confusing to distinguish between the different ice formations & their development.

The Difference Between Snow And Hail

Snow forms in subzero temperatures when water vapor turns directly into ice crystals, which cling together to form snowflakes. Hail forms in thunderclouds where updrafts carry water droplets into subzero temperatures causing them to freeze into hailstones & bind to other waterdrops.

Readers living in Scandinavian countries, Canada, Russia, and other regions close to the Arctic Circle will probably find this subject very amusing. There are many readers, though, who experience the phenomena of ice, hail, and snow very seldom (if at all).

This article examines what ice, snow, and hail are and how they differ from each other by looking at how they are formed and defining their characteristics and structure.

It also takes a look at other forms of water in its solid state and how they relate to ice, snow, or hail. This includes well-known formations like sleet, ice rain, graupel, rime, and frost.

Ice - Definition And Formation

What Is Ice?

ice

Ice can be seen as the umbrella term used to describe all forms of water in its solid state. When water in its liquid state is exposed to temperatures below freezing point (32° Fahrenheit or 0° Celsius) for a certain period, depending on time and temperature, it results in the hard, solid, and transparent substance we know as ice.

Apart from the hard and transparent (or semi-opaque if the ice contains impurities) nature of ice, it also differs from its liquid form in other ways.

Physical Nature Of Ice

Technically, ice still consists of 1 oxygen atom combined with 2 hydrogen atoms, which maintains water's transparent nature.

One important and sometimes overlooked difference between ice and water, is the fact that ice has a lower density than water. This is a result of the orientation of the hydrogen atoms as the temperature is lowered, pushing the water molecules further apart as it freezes and ice is formed.

iceberg

This decreased density of ice also makes it lighter than water. This is why ice objects always floats on top of water. (Two examples are the icebergs floating  in the ocean, and the ice covering and floating on top of a pond or lake.) 

Another important feature of ice, is that it expands as water freezes and turns to ice. This means ice occupies a larger volume of space than water, which can be a potential problem.

Water in the cracks of building materials like concrete or stone, will expand when it freezes. This often leads to and expansion of the cracks in these materials which can weaken them and cause structural instability and potential collapse.

Flooding in buildings due to burst pipes are common in regions experiencing long periods of temperatures below freezing point. As the water in the pipes freeze, it expands causing many pipes to burst under the pressure.  

As with all the other substances & phenomena in this article,  the composition and features of ice are in some way a result of the way in which it was formed.

Formation Of Ice

As earlier stated, ice are formed when water is turned from its liquid form to its solid form by being exposed to temperatures below freezing point.

There are variety of ways in which ice can be formed, both on the ground and in the atmosphere. There is no need to explain each one in detail as most of these processes occur very much in the same way.

By use an example of ice forming on the ground and another of ice forming in the atmosphere, you will be able to get a much better understanding of ice formation in general.

On the ground, the formation of ice very often takes place in bodies of water (dams, ponds and the ocean) due to a drop in atmospheric temperatures. This is often seasonal as well, coinciding with the colder winter months in many countries.

During these cold winter months, many countries in the Northern Hemisphere closer to the Arctic Circle starts to experience temperatures well below freezing point. As the winter months arrive and temperatures starts to plummet, smaller bodies of water (like ponds) are the first to turn into ice.

Larger bodies of water take much longer, but over time the surface water of larger lakes starts to ice over, and parts of smaller rivers stops flowing as the water turns into ice. 

A critical part of global ice formation, is the growth of the Polar Ice Caps in the Northern Hemisphere during winter months. As the temperatures continue to drop, the physical size of the North Pole increases by a significant margin as more ice is added on top and to the sides of this massive floating "continent" of ice.

sea ice

As the Northern IceCaps are not exposed to any direct sunlight during winter months, the temperatures drops very low.  This allows the North Pole to physically expand and the sea ice to cover 15 million km² (5.8 million square miles) of the Northern Hemisphere during March when the IceCaps has grown to its maximum size. 

The formation of ice on such a large scale annually, is vital for the regulation of the temperatures of the world's oceans, as well as helping to control the climate on a global scale.

In the atmosphere within cloud systems, ice is also formed when water is turned into its solid state as a result of subzero temperatures, but the process through which it takes place is quite different. 

In big storm clouds, normally supercells or cumulonimbus clouds, a huge vertical buildup in the cloud system can occur where the clouds can reach heights well into the upper troposphere. This creates the perfect environment for the formation of ice.

These clouds normally contain a combination of powerful updrafts and downdrafts. As water vapor condensates into water droplets, it can be carried up higher into the clouds by updrafts.

With temperatures well below freezing point at these heights, the water droplets come in contact with supercooled water which cause ice to formed instantly on contact. It will start falling to the ground before being picked up by another updraft and come in contact with more supercooled water and other ice particles.

During this whole process, the ball of ice continues to grow in size until it becomes too heavy to stay in the air and falls to the ground, usually in the form of hail. (We will discuss hail in much more detail later on in the article.)

Sometimes though, temperatures are not below freezing point when water droplets are formed during condensation in a normal cloud. As they start falling, however, they sometimes travel through hundreds of meters of freezing air.

As a result, these waterdrops continue to be cooled to temperatures well below freezing point. These supercooled raindrops is called freezing rain (sometimes called ice rain), and as soon as these raindrops hit the ground or any other surface, it is instantly turned into ice.

From just these two or three examples just described, it should become very clear that there are a wide variety of ways in which ice can be formed, both on the ground and in atmosphere.

Variations Of Ice

But, at the end of the day, ice is just ice right? No matter how they are formed, the end result is still the same...

Well no, not exactly. When casually observed, all forms of ice may look the same, but if you took a closer look, you will notice some subtle but important differences.

What is even more important, is that different forms of ice has characteristics that makes them react differently to their environment. By just looking at a few examples, you will be able to understand why not all ice are "created equal."  

Freshwater Ice: This is probably the most common form of ice, as freshwater is the most abundant type of water found in our rivers, dams, lakes, reservoirs and households. They have the common characteristics of "normal" ice and also freeze consistently at temperatures below 32° Fahrenheit or 0° Celsius.

Sea Ice: At the name suggests, sea ice is formed when ocean water is turned into ice due to a drop in temperature to below freezing point. But it is here where its characteristics differ from freshwater ice. Due to the amount of salt in seawater, sea ice takes much longer to form than freshwater ice. (Seawater gets more dense as it cools down and sinks away from the surface.) The freezing point is also much lower at -1.8° Celsius (28.8° Fahrenheit) prolonging the formation of sea ice even further.

black ice

Glaze Ice: When supercooled waterdrops (ice rain) hits any surface it instantly form a thin clear layer of ice with a very smooth surface. This is a particularly dangerous form of ice when formed on surfaces like roads and pavements. They are almost invisible to the naked eye and very smooth, making it very easy for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists to slip on. 

Hail: We already discussed hail in some detail and will do so in much more detail later on in this article. But as we have already seen, hail is formed in the atmosphere in storm clouds when water droplets collide with supercooled waterdrops in the upper atmosphere in subzero temperatures, instantly turning them to ice in the process.

These are just four examples of many variations of ice and the many forms it take. Next time you see a piece of ice that didn't come out of refrigerator, remember "ice is never just ice".

Snow - Definition And Formation

What Is Snow?

ice

Essentially, snow is a collection of ice crystals that are formed around a pollen or dust particle as a result of the condensation of water vapor in sub-zero temperatures (below 32° Fahrenheit or 0° Celsius) in the atmosphere. When these ice crystals start clinging together snowflakes are formed. As more crystals are added to a snowflake, it grows in size and weight until it becomes too heavy and starts falling to the ground as a result of the earth's gravity.

The most obvious difference between snow and ice can be found in the way they are structured. A snowflake is much lighter and fragile than a similar volume of ice, which is much more dense and almost solid in structure.

Physical Nature Of Snow

The soft and light structure of a snowflake (or any piece of snow) is a direct result of the fact that it is made up out of a number of ice crystals with pockets of air trapped within them.

Each snowflake is hexagonal (six sided) in shape, simply because they are mainly made up out of hexagonal plates, prisms, star-shaped (hexagonal) ice crystals.

It is is important to note though, that even though they might have the same shape, no two snowflakes are the same. Each one has its unique properties.

Snow are also white in color as they reflect all the colors in the color spectrum, which creates a white color when combined.

If you look at a snowflake in detail, you will see that it is made up of many different elements when viewed under magnification. Naturally, the multitudes of ice crystals that are bound together play center-stage when looking at the snowflake up close.

Among some of the other elements found in a snowflake, includes microscopic pieces of pollen and dust (around which many of the ice crystals are formed), as well as pockets of air containing oxygen, nitrogen, and a few other elements commonly found in atmospheric air. 

Formation Of Snow

We are very familiar with snow falling from the sky in the form of snowflakes. Just like ice though, snow can be formed both in the atmosphere and on the ground.

In the atmosphere, ice crystals are formed when the temperature is already well below freezing point. Instead of forming micro water droplets, water vapor condenses directly around small particles of dust or pollen to form ice crystals (a process called deposition), creating their unique hexagon shaped structure.

ice crystal

As the ice crystals start to come in contact and cling to each other, a snowflake is formed. Snowflakes retain its hexagonal shape as already explained, resulting in plenty of "air pockets" to be trapped inside the snowflake.

This allows a snowflake to be much lighter and less dense than a similar sized ball of ice. The combination of the ice crystals' structure and air pockets inside, also allow snow to be easily transformed and compacted.

On the ground, snow is also formed through an accumulation of ice crystals in the form of hoar frost. The formation of hoar frost is very similar to that of snowflakes in the atmosphere but takes place on the ground via contact with objects with subzero temperatures.

On the ground, a variety of objects (lampposts, fences, leaves, branches among others) may be exposed to subzero atmospheric temperatures, lowering their own temperatures to well below freezing point.

As humid air containing water vapor comes in contact with these cold objects, it is instantly frozen and turned into ice crystals. As these ice crystals accumulate, the same type of "snow" found in the atmosphere, is formed on tree branches, fences, and other cold objects. This is called hoar frost.

Variations Of Snow

Just like ice, snow also comes in a variety of different forms that are very often a result of the way in which they were formed. Just by looking at a few different examples this will become very obvious.

Atmospheric Snow: The most common form of snow with which most of us are also familiar with. Ice crystals are formed in subzero temperatures in the atmosphere, starts clinging together and form snowflakes. After reaching a certain size and weight, the snowflakes fall to the ground as a result of the earth's gravitational force.

Hoar Frost

Hoar Frost: This process also involves water vapor that is turned directly into ice crystals. Unlike ice crystals in the atmosphere though, this process takes place on the ground where humid air comes in contact with objects with temperatures below freezing point, instantly allowing the water vapor in the air to be turned into ice crystals upon contact.   

Sleet: Another form of snow is called sleet (often confused with ice rain). When snowflakes are formed and starts falling to the ground, it sometimes fall through a warmer layer in the atmosphere which melts the snowflakes and are turned into waterdrops in the process.

As it continues to fall, it may travel through another layer of subzero atmospheric temperatures, causing the waterdrops to freeze and fall on the ground in the form of small ice pellets called sleet. (Unlike ice rain, it is already turned into ice pellets before hitting the ground, not in contact with the ground as is the case with ice rain.)

Graupel: Sometimes referred to as "snow pellets", graupel is formed when snow falls through an area of supercooled water. Upon contact, the supercooled water freezes around the snowflake and rime it, and graupel is formed as a result.

This process alters the shape and appearance of the snowflake, often resembling the appearance of hail. This is why graupel is sometimes referred to as "soft hail". It is still technically snow, as it is not nearly as solid as hail and the small layer of ice around the snowflake does not change the density of the snowflake itself.  

These four examples provide plenty of proof that snow are formed in a variety of ways and comes in all shapes and sizes.

Hail - Definition And Formation

Hail has already been mentioned a few times during the course of this article (and a few external articles on this website) and are essentially a subcategory of ice.

Yet, it differs in so many ways from other forms of ice, and is such a unique & important occurrence on its own, with its potentially devastating impact on the environment, it really deserves its own complete section.

As already mentioned, hail is essentially a form of ice. However, as you will soon discover, it differs so drastically in its structure and especially in the way it is formed, that in a way it can be seen as an entirely different entity.  

What Is Hail?

hail

Essentially hail is solid layered balls of ice formed as water droplets are carried up high into the atmosphere through updrafts in huge storms systems (like supercells and cumulonimbus clouds). At these high altitudes, they are exposed to temperatures well below freezing point, causing them to freeze and turn into hailstones.

A they are carried through additional updrafts and downdrafts in the storm clouds, additional layers are added until the hailstones grow too big to be kept in the air, and falls to the ground as a result of gravity.

Physical Nature Of Hail

Simply by looking at the structure a hailstone, it should become clear how much it differs from the "normal" ice commonly formed on the ground.

Upon closer inspection, it becomes clear very quickly that hailstones have a roundish, but more importantly, a predominantly irregular shape. This differs dramatically from the structured hexagonal shape of snowflakes (made up out of ice crystals)

This is a direct result of the fact that snowflakes are formed from the hexagon-shaped ice crystals which allow snowflakes to maintain this six-sided structure. Unlike snow though, hail is formed from waterdrops (and not ice crystals), and therefore has no fixed structure.

As supercooled water and other small ice particles attach themselves to a hailstone from different sides as it is carried through updrafts and downdrafts, a very irregular shaped hailstone is formed. 

A hailstone is formed through a series of supercooled waterdrops, small pieces of ice particles, and water droplets building up around it in a storm cloud. A result, the hailstone has a distinctly layered structure, very much like the peels of an onion. (This is very visible when looking at a cross-section of a hailstone.) 

hailstone

When you look at some of the other characteristics of hail, its translucent color is also very characteristic of this particular frozen form of ice. It is not fully transparent as it is made up of multiple layers of different ice, with some impurities also finding its way into the hailstone structure.

The irregular shape of hailstones also hinders its transparency and contributes to the translucent color commonly associated with hail.

Hailstones also come in a variety of sizes, from as small as 5 millimeters (0.2 inches) to 15 centimeters (6 inches) in diameter. The size of a hailstone is determined by a variety of factors including the size of the storm cloud, the strength of updrafts/downdrafts, the amount of moisture in the air, and the vertical extend (height) of the cloud system.

Bigger hailstones can cause severe damage to buildings, vegetation, as well as motor vehicles. It can also cause serious injuries and even be fatal if human beings are struck. This is especially the case once hailstones reach the size of tennisballs, baseballs or larger objects.

Formation Of Hail

We already briefly touched on the formation of hail, but let's take a more indepth look at how a hailstone is formed.

Before looking at the formation process, let me just quickly dispel a myth that exists surrounding hail. It does not need to be cold and stormy on the ground in order for a hailstorm to occur. The weather can be perfectly tolerable or even slightly warm right before a hail starts falling.

There are few conditions however, that needs to be in place to ensure the formation of hail:

  • A sufficient amount of moisture (water vapor) in the air.
  • Strong updrafts.
  • Storm clouds with a large vertical extent (distance from the cloud base to the upper region of the cloud), sometimes reaching up to 16 km (10 miles) in height
  • Hail embryos in the form of very small pieces of soft ice or frozen raindrops sometimes referred to as graupel.
  • Supercooled water droplets in the upper regions of the cloud system. 
  • Lowered freezing level heights.

Not all of these conditions needs to be present for the formation of hail. Neither will the presence of each and every one of these conditions guarantee the formation of ice.

What it means is simply that the presence of these conditions provides the best possible environment for hail to form. Each one's role will soon become clear.

Cumulonimbus Clouds

As already mentioned, a strong storm cloud (preferably in the form of a supercell or cumulonimbus cloud) forms the ideal environment for hail formation. These clouds contain strong updrafts as well as a large vertical buildup that is conducive to hail development.

As water vapor rises up into altitudes with lower temperatures, condensation takes place and water droplets are formed. These water droplets get caught by updrafts and carried up high into the atmosphere (sometime 16-17 kilometers), with temperatures well below freezing point, where the water droplets are turned into ice.

As the updraft weakens or the frozen raindrop gets caught in a downdraft, it is pulled back down to the ground. As it falls through the cloud, it comes in contact with supercooled water droplets and water vapor, which builds up around frozen raindrop, adding to its size and weight and a hailstone starts forming.

When the hailstone is caught by another strong updraft, it is carried back up into the cold upper atmosphere where the process repeats itself. This cycle will continue until the hailstone becomes too big and heavy for the cloud to hold it in the air and the hailstone falls to the ground.

The size of the hailstones reaching the ground largely depends on the size and extent of the storm cloud itself, the strength of the updrafts, and the amount of moisture in the air.

Variations Of Hail

Since hail is already a subcategory of ice, breaking it further down will be confusing. There are, however, two substances closely related to and often confused with hail. I already discussed them earlier in the article, but need to emphasize their difference from hail as it relates to their structure and formation:

Sleet: Often mistaken for smaller hailstones, sleet is actually something completely different. The small frozen ice pellets hitting the ground is actually snow that has melted into water as it fell through a warmer section of air, only to subsequently fall through a layer subzero temperatures which caused them to be frozen into ice pellets.

Graupel: As previously mentioned, graupel is formed when snow falls through an area of supercooled water. Upon contact, the supercooled water freezes around the snowflake and rime it, which forms graupel. It may resemble hail, but is nothing more than ice covered balls of snow which can be easily deformed and crushed.

Conclusion

If you managed to read through this whole article without your head spinning, congratulations! This topic can be very confusing and can lead to debate and disagreement. 

For this very reason I broke this article up into the differences between ice, snow and hail. They cover the major types of water (or water vapor) in its frozen form.

Naturally, as you have seen, there are many more variations, mostly based on physical characteristics and formation. There is also a lot of overlap between the different categories, but all of them can essentially be placed in one these 3 main categories.

I trust this article helped you to better understand all the different forms of water in its frozen form, as well as clear up any confusion you may have about it.  

Feel free to leave me any comments, questions or suggestions, and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Never miss out again when another interesting and helpful article is released and stay updated, while also receiving helpful tips & information by simply  clicking on this link .

Until next time, keep your eye on the weather!

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Weather Balloon Facts: What They Are And How They Work

What Is A Weather Balloon heading

The use of weather balloons is sometimes mentioned during weather forecasts and meteorological discussions. For many readers, though, it may be unclear what these devices are and how they function.

A weather balloon is a meteorological device that carries instrumentation into the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere. It consists of a balloon attached to a radiosonde that measures different atmospheric conditions, which are sent back to a base station on the planet's surface for analysis.

Although thousands of these "mobile weather stations" are launched every month across the world, not that much is known about exactly what they are and how they work.

Balloons are one of the oldest forms of aviation technology that have been around for centuries, but it is only during the 20th Century that they were getting utilized on a large scale to take meteorological measurements.

What Does A Weather Balloon Look Like?

At first glance, or just glancing at it briefly, you will think a weather balloon is nothing more than a regular oversized balloon. Although there are many similarities, weather balloons differ in quite a few ways.

Before taking a closer look at the finer characteristics of a weather balloon and its different functions, one first needs to define exactly what it is.

What Is A Weather Balloon?

weather balloon

A weather balloon (or sounding balloon) is a device that carries meteorological instrumentation into the atmosphere. It consists of a radiosonde attached to a balloon that measures temperature, humidity, air pressure, wind, and other data, which are sent back to a base station on Earth for analysis.

This data is transmitted back to earth via a device called a radiosonde, which is used by meteorologists to analyze current and forecast future weather conditions.

The first obvious difference is the size of a weather balloon. It can be anything from 6 to 8 feet (1.40 to 2.40 meters) in diameter, depending on the weight of the instrumentation and the height the balloon needs to reach. 

What A Weather Balloon Looks Like

Made of a highly flexible and tough latex material, weather balloons normally have a white or transparent color. (Although they can also be obtained in red, blue, yellow, or normal latex tan.)

The shape and size of a weather balloon largely depend on its altitude. On the ground, many weather balloons seem to be a bit deflated with an oval shape. But meteorologists know it will rapidly expand as it gains altitude and doesn't want it to burst too early in its ascent.

The ones you view high up in the atmosphere will be round in shape. This happens because the air pressure outside the balloon continues to drop as the altitude increases, allowing the air inside the balloon to continue to expand as the balloon keeps rising up higher.

At the bottom, an array of weather instruments called a radiosonde is connected to the balloon. (With a built-in orange parachute to lower the radiosonde safely to the ground.)

How Does A Weather Balloon Work?

The latex material is normally filled with either hydrogen or helium to lift the balloon to the desired height required by the meteorologists. The radiosonde is connected to the bottom of the balloon, and the balloon is then released from the appropriate launch site.

The launch site is normally in a large open area where there is no danger of drifting into any large vertical objects like tall buildings or mountainous terrain. Airfields are a very popular location to launch weather balloons from.

As soon as the balloon is released and starts rising into the air, the radiosonde starts sending data back to the base station, which the meteorologists can start to analyze.

As it gains altitude, the air inside the balloon starts expanding, and the balloon grows larger as it rises into thinner air.

View From 100 000 Feet

Weather balloons are capable of reaching heights of 100 000 feet (30 480 meters) within an hour after being launched from the surface. Reaching this height gives them the ability to record weather data that no other weather data-gathering device can, which makes them invaluable to meteorologists worldwide.

You might wonder what happens to weather balloons after they reached this height. Well, they explode, literally. There is so little pressure in the air at this height that the air inside the balloon expands to such a point that the latex cannot be stretched any further, and the balloon literally explodes.

The weather balloon's (radiosonde) payload starts falling to the ground, but a small orange parachute attached between the radiosonde and balloon gently guides it down back to Earth.

It's important to try and preserve the radiosonde, as it can be reconditioned and used again. This will lead to a huge saving in cost. (Especially if you take into consideration that a weather balloon is launched twice a day from 92 weather stations in the United States alone. This is a total of 67 160 weather balloons released yearly in one country!)

Unfortunately, only 25% of all radiosondes are recovered and returned to be reconditioned.

And that is the lifecycle of a weather balloon, lasting for a total of about 2 hours after being launched. Yet, you have to take into consideration the fact that the onboard instruments start sending back precious data from the moment the balloon is launched all the way until it reaches a height of 100 000 feet an hour later.

Conclusion

And now you know exactly what a weather balloon is and what it does. Even more so, you will now realize what an important role weather balloons play in the meteorological field and how vital they are to gather very important data needed by meteorologists to understand current weather conditions and forecast future weather events.

Yes, they use aviation innovation more than a century old. Yet, they still fulfill a role unable to be fulfilled by any other device or instrument available today.

Never miss out again when another interesting and helpful article is released and stay updated, while also receiving helpful tips & information by simply  following this link .

Until next time, keep your eye on the weather!

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The Effect Of Weather On Your Health – How Weather-Related Illnesses Affect Us

The Effect Of Weather On Your Health-heading

Most of us will remember a parent or teacher calling us inside while playing outside in the rain "before we get a cold or flu." It was also not uncommon to spend warm summer days playing outside for hours. (Sometimes during the hottest part of the day). Although times have changed, and society as a whole is more "informed," how much do we really know about weather related-illnesses?

So how much truth is there in these warnings and dangers we grew up with? Actually, as scientific research has proven over recent years, there is a lot of truth in many of these warnings, and some dangers are very real.

As this article will explain, some weather conditions have small but noticeable effects on our health. Others, however, have a far more serious and lasting impact, but we don't even realize it at the time.

The aim of this article is to give you a broad overview of the different weather related illnesses. To keep things short and simple, we will stick to a brief description and explanation of each topic.

What Are Weather Related Illnesses?

A weather-related illness is a disease/infection or other adverse health condition that is the direct or indirect result of severe atmospheric conditions such as heat, cold, humidity, or dry weather.

(Once you are aware of the various dangers, you will always be able to and learn more about it here online, or if you are really concerned, seek the advice from your physician.)

By categorizing each section under the following weather conditions, you will be able to quickly find what you are looking for if you are just scanning through this article for some specific answer.

Each section will be divided up under the four major weather conditions:

four weather conditions
  1. Warm Weather
  2. Cold Weather
  3. Dry & Hot Weather
  4. Rainy (wet) Weather

As you will see, there can be quite a bit of overlap between certain health conditions and different weather variables. This is simply because some health conditions are affected by various different weather elements.

Heat Related Illnesses

The effect of heat on our bodies is probably one of the most noticeable weather effects. We very quickly become aware of these warm conditions making us feel being hot, tired, thirsty, or even lethargic during a hot, humid day.

There are some hidden dangers as well, some of which we only become aware of years later. We examine both the visible and hidden dangers while trying to focus on the most important and relevant ones.

  1. 1
    Dehydration
  2. 2
    Migraines
  3. 3
    Heat Stroke
  4. 4
    Sunburn
  5. 5
    Fatigue And Exhaustion

1) Dehydration 

dehydration

As we perspire a lot more during warm weather, we need to rehydrate on a regular basis. Although we often become aware of being thirsty, dehydration often sneaks up on you, and you only feel its effects after becoming lethargic and exhausted. 

During physical activity, cramping of the muscles is a very quick reminder that you probably neglected to stay properly hydrated.

Although normally considered a short-term condition, dehydration can have serious effects. Being constantly dehydrated over the long-term puts a lot of stress on your organs, especially your kidneys. Left unchecked, it can even lead to permanent organ damage.  

2) Migraines

If you are one of the unfortunate people who suffer migraines, this may not be new information to you at all, but the weather is actually one of the main causes of migraines.

And it's even more sobering when you have to consider that it's not just one but a variety of weather conditions that can trigger a migraine. Changes in temperature, high winds, and stormy weather can all contribute to the development of a migraine.

It is mostly warm weather, and it's and all the factors surrounding it, that is the biggest contributor to migraines. The heat and humidity themselves are very often the triggers of this painful condition.

Direct sunlight is often a double blow to someone whose eyes are sensitive to sunlight and also suffer from migraines. Being directly exposed to the bright sun is almost guaranteed to be followed by a migraine attack.

Then, ironically, two very different conditions related to heat, extreme humidity, and very dry weather can both contribute to migraines to varying degrees.

You will, therefore not be imagining things when you find that you always develop a migraine when certain weather conditions occur.

3) Heat Stroke

Heat Stroke (also called sunstroke) is one of the most serious heat-related injuries and can be fatal. This occurs when a person is exposed to the sun and heat for a prolonged period of time and often coincides with humidity.

This can result in the body to shut down its temperature control system. If it is not caught in time or treated immediately, it can lead to death or permanent brain damage.

Tell-tale symptoms include fainting or completely losing consciousness. There are warning signs, however. Feelings of dizziness, nausea, rapid heartbeats, and being hot without sweating are all warning signs that should not be ignored.

This is a very serious condition, so when you experience these symptoms or notice someone else displaying them, don't ignore it. Especially after a prolonged period of exposure to the sun, this can really be a matter of life or death.

4) Sunburn

Apart from those of you who live close to Arctic regions and have never taken a holiday near the tropics or a sunny country, we have all experienced the painful result of sunburn.

Sunburn

Sunburn occurs when the skin is exposed to the dangerous UV radiation from the sun for an extended period of time. This results in painful red skin discoloration, which is the body's inflammatory response to the damage. The diluted blood vessels are the start of the repair process by the body's immune system.

The evenings and following days after a day of very long hours in direct sunlight without proper protection (sunscreen and proper clothing), will be a painful reminder of this danger we will don't easily forget. (And yet, sometimes still not learn from it.)

There is a hidden and much more dangerous result of sunburn, though. One we very often only discovered decades later. The close relationship between skin cancer and sun exposure has already been well researched and known for decades in the medical community.

The biggest danger is that skin cancer (as a result of sunburn) very often only manifests itself decades later, even though the damage was done in our early years.

I can testify to this myself. At 47, I recently developed strange looking growths on my skin, only to discover it was solar keratosis, a form of precancer. (Luckily, it was treated and burned off with liquid nitrogen).

Being fair-skinned, I used to "bake" in the sun for hours in my teens in my attempts to look healthy and not stick out like a sore thumb. My mother, also fair-skinned, already got treated for skin cancer several times, so you will think yours truly would get the message...

Fortunately, most skin cancers are not deadly and treatable when caught in time. It can have deadly effects, though, especially in its most dangerous form, melanoma. But why take the risk when you can prevent the cause of it all from doing the damage in the first place?

Sunburn is something that should be taken seriously, though, so make sure especially children are adequately protected and stay out of the sun during the hours when the sun's UV radiation is at its highest. They may not thank you now but will thank you later.

5) Fatigue And Exhaustion

We all know how tired we are after a long warm day at the beach or out in nature. Even just commuting or sitting in your office in warm weather conditions can be exhausting and lead to fatigue and drowsiness.

exhaustion

Dehydration is one of the main causes, as it makes you feel tired and fatigued very quickly. The warm weather heats your body. It responds by perspiring to cool the body down. It very often happens over time without you even noticing it.

As a result, your body starts dehydrating, and if you are not aware of this and don't drink enough fluids, you will inevitably start feeling fatigued.

As the body tries to cool the body in various ways, it also uses up energy. The longer your body needs to stay cool, the more energy is used up. This leads to a lack of energy, which is another reason why you start to feel tired and exhausted.

Warm temperatures also lead to a drop in blood pressure. This is normally not dangerous in an otherwise healthy person. The drop in blood pressure, however, does make you feel tired and drowsy.

A combination of all these factors can make a warm, humid day very tiresome, exhausting, and very unproductive.

Cold Related Illnesses

Before delving into the various health conditions in this section, I need to clarify that the cold weather diseases or health conditions discussed here are not necessarily the ones associated with "normal" cooler winter temperatures.

I am referring to those countries and regions closer to the northern and southern arctic regions, which are experiencing exceptionally cold weather. (This will obviously include any country that also experiences extreme cold weather during the winter months.)

  1. 1
    Compromised Immune System
  2. 2
    Hypothermia
  3. 3
    Heart Attacks
  4. 4
    Frostbite
  5. 5
    Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

1) Compromised Immune System

Just as your body spends energy in its attempt to cool down in warm weather conditions, it also spends a lot of energy trying to warm your body during cold weather conditions.

It just spends that much more energy trying to stay warm than it does cooling down. Perspiring is a more passive action, while shivering is nothing more than your muscles contracting and relaxing at a rapid rate. So it's basically a form of exercise, like going to the gym.

Shivering over a long period of time, combined with muscle movements to help you stay warm you may not even be aware of (like rubbing your hands together or shoveling your feet), really use up a substantial amount of energy.  

As you would have noticed, I often talk about people with weak or compromised immune systems throughout this article. Unfortunately, it is true that they are the ones who are most vulnerable to changing weather conditions.

And this the case with cold conditions as well. A child or elderly person with a developing or weakened immune system will be weakened even further in cold weather conditions.

As a result, an individual with a weakened immune system is now much more prone to infections and diseases that would have easily been fought off under normal circumstances.

2) Hypothermia

hypothermia

As the air temperature drops, your body is in a constant battle to keep your body temperature up. There are some instances, however, where the body is simply not able to keep its temperature at a sustainable level.

Once your body's core temperature drops below 35° Celsius (95° Fahrenheit), hypothermia sets in. If not treated quickly, this can lead to a shutdown of your organs and nervous system, which can be fatal.

Hypothermia is classified in various stages, from mild to severe. The seriousness and form of treatment are mostly determined by the stage of hypothermia experienced.  

People with a weakened or underdeveloped immune system, like children and the elderly, have the biggest risk of experiencing hypothermia during very cold conditions.

3) Heart Attacks

The number of heart attacks per year shows a significant rise during the cold winter months. This has been confirmed by the American Heart Association, but in reality, it is actually a worldwide phenomenon.

This is partly due to the compromised immune system I mentioned in the section above. Especially when performing physical activity, the heart is forced to work harder.

This puts anyone with an existing heart condition at risk as the body is less able to cope with the additional stress than under warmer conditions due to a weakened immune system.

Additionally, cold weather also causes blood vessels in the human body to be constricted. This inhibits blood flow to the heart, which puts it under additional stress.

This, in turn, can increase the likelihood of a blood clot restricting or completely blocking any blood from reaching the heart, which can trigger a heart attack.     

4) Frostbite

This also a very serious condition that occurs under extremely cold conditions. Under these icy conditions, the exposed areas of the skin and underlying tissue are frozen by the cold temperatures. (It can also happen to the skin underneath clothing.)

frostbite

The areas most affected are the toes, fingers, nose, ears, and chin. In more severe cases, larger parts of the body can also be affected.

Symptoms include a tingling sensation, feelings of numbness, and general clumsiness due to the stiffening up of the muscles.

Physical symptoms can mostly be observed in the discoloration of the skin. From a red, white, to a bluish-white and grayish-yellow color can be seen and may indicate various stages of frostbite. A hard and waxy-looking skin may also point to possible frostbite.

Various stages of frostbite occur, with the most severe case resulting in the death of the skin and underlying tissue. This is the result of a complete loss of blood flow for a prolonged period as a result of the tissue being frozen.

At this point, gangrene has set in, and the skin has turned black and hard as a result of the dying tissue. In most cases, at his point, amputation of the affected area may be the only source of treatment.

This a worst-case scenario, though, and in most cases, the affected areas be treated and are able to recover.

The biggest danger, however, is that this condition may occur unnoticed and therefore not treated in time. This is because the affected area turns numb quickly, which means you may not even be aware of the worsening condition if it's not pointed out to you.

5) Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Although this is considered an indirect result of cold weather conditions, it is still serious enough and should be taken note of.

During cold weather, staying warm door indoors often coincide with creating sources of heat. Especially in less developed countries, furnaces, fireplaces, and stoves are often used.

During the burning process, carbon monoxide is released. It is an odorless but deadly gas, which means it is sometimes not picked up until it's too late.

For this reason, care should be taken for proper ventilation of these gases, and having a meter that measures carbon monoxide levels at all times, is always a sensible option.

Dry Weather Related Illnesses

  1. 1
    Dry Skin Conditions
  2. 2
    Upper Respiratory Problems
  3. 3
    Nosebleeds

1) Dry Skin Conditions

Like most other parts of our body, our skin contains and actually needs a certain amount of moisture to stay healthy and sustain its elasticity.

Cracked Skin

During dry winter months (or summer in some countries), the dry air directly affects our skin and leads to a loss of the amount of moisture it contains.

Its symptoms include the itchiness and sometimes burning sensation many of us are familiar with. Visible scratch marks and a red discoloration after friction with another object are also tell-tale signs of dry skin.

Dry air can also lead to some individuals developing painful cracks on their skin and chapped lips. If left untreated, it can worsen and actually start to bleed, which can leave the affected areas prone to infection.

2) Upper Respiratory Problems

Your upper respiratory system, specifically your nose and throat, is lined with moist membranes. The main task of these membranes is to capture small particles like pollen, dust, and bacteria before they reach your lungs.

When the weather becomes very dry, these membranes can start losing humidity as well. This severely limits their ability to effectively perform their jobs.

Many upper respiratory infections and conditions like asthma, sinusitis, and bronchitis can be severely affected when these membranes start to lose their ability to perform their tasks optimally and effectively.

It is, therefore, quite common to see an increase in occurrences of these ailments during dry weather conditions.

3) Nosebleeds

Since we do the majority of our breathing through our noses, the amount of moisture present in the air has a direct effect on our nasal passages.

During the dry season, the air passing through our nasal passages causes the inside of the nose to become dry as well, which is uncomfortable and quite painful in many cases.

This also often leads to nosebleeds among some individuals. That is also why it is not uncommon at all to see more people suffering from nosebleeds when the weather remains predominantly dry.

Wet Weather Related Illnesses

  1. 1
    Colds And Flu
  2. 2
    Asthma
  3. 3
    Waterborne Diseases
  4. 4
    Athlete's Foot

1) Colds And Flu

We all know that "rainy and cold weather causes colds and flu."

colds and flu

Do they really?

Nope, this claim is actually a myth. Cold and rainy weather do contribute to colds and flu, but not in the way you think!

During winter months, people tend to stay indoors and spend a lot more time in close proximity to other people. This creates the ideal environment for viruses to spread.

With over 200 viruses responsible for colds and flu, the rhinovirus is responsible for more than 50% of all colds contracted. It is also highly infectious and can be passed on through physical contact or via the air (sneezing and coughing).

Combine this with people concentrated into confined spaces and sharing the same air, and it is no surprise that the number of cold & flu instances increase dramatically over the cold and wet winter months.  

The wet and cold weather only contributes to this increase by forcing people indoors more often, as well as lowering immune systems as the human body is using up valuable energy while fighting to keep it warm.

2) Asthma

Although this can fall under upper respiratory health conditions, it is serious and different enough to deserve its own section. Over 300 million people worldwide suffer from asthma in some form.

It is therefore important to note that a thunderstorm can actually trigger an asthma attack. Pollen allergens, which are some of the primary triggers for an asthma attack, are picked by the wind swirling around in the storm.

As the storm travels, it carries these pollen allergens with them. This increases the likelihood of being inhaled by anyone in the path of the storm. In the case of an asthma sufferer, the chances are good of causing an asthma attack.

3) Waterborne Diseases

An often overlooked but potentially deadly consequence of the wet rainy season is the increase and spread of waterborne diseases.

This is especially prolific in regions experiencing heavy rainfall over short periods of time, for example, in India during the Monsoon Season.

mosquitoes

After a heavy downpour, flash flooding often occurs. This leaves large areas of standing water for days or even weeks. It is this standing water that is the ideal breeding ground for all kinds of waterborne diseases, which is spread through various forms of contact, including insects like mosquitoes.

Some of the deadliest diseases like typhoid, malaria, cholera, and dengue flourish in these conditions. These waterborne diseases are also responsible for more fatalities in India during the monsoon season than any direct weather event (like flooding, structural collapse, and mudslides).

4) Athlete's Foot

This indirect result of a particularly heavy rainy season is not that serious at all. I decided to include it just to put a little more of a lighthearted spin on an otherwise rather serious article.

Standing water as a result of a heavy downpour and flash flooding is ideal for the spreading of the fungus that causes athlete's foot. As a result, you see a substantial increase in this embarrassing and inconvenient fungal infection during rainy seasons.

Conclusion

A range of health conditions can directly be linked to specific weather occurrences. In many cases, as I stated at the start of the article, some conditions can be triggered or influenced by a variety of different weather variables.

If you were ever puzzled as to why you only experience certain health issues or feel the way you do at specific times over the years, I hope this article was able to shed some light on the situation and answer some questions.

There are obviously countless more health conditions that can be linked to specific weather variables. I tried to concentrate and isolate the most important ones, though.

Never miss out again when another interesting and helpful article is released and stay updated, while also receiving helpful tips & information by simply  following this link .

Until next time, keep your eye on the weather!

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What Are Gale Force Winds And How Are They Formed?

What Are Gale Force Winds And How They Are Formed heading

From time to time, strong, persistent winds may occur that make just staying on your feet a battle. We all experienced them. But what are these gale force winds, and what are their characteristics?

A gale force wind or gale is a strong, persistent wind ranging from 50 km/h or 31 mph to 102 km/h or 63 mph and is typically associated with but not limited to coastal regions. According to the Beaufort Scale, gale force winds can be broken down into four subcategories.

Strong gusty winds are not uncommon and can be found in many major storm systems like hurricanes, thunderstorms, and tornadoes. Gale force winds are not limited to just major storm systems, though.

The strong, persistent gale force winds we are discussing in this article are the prolonged gale force winds with gusts strong enough to cause significant structural damage and the ability to literally blow you off your feet.

These winds can sometimes occur without any apparent presence of a strong weather system and can last a whole day. One needs to investigate further and find out what exactly these gale force winds are to understand what is causing them in the first place. 

Gale Definition

The introduction already provided a brief description of what a gale force wind is. However, one needs to establish a more detailed definition to define exactly what a gale force wind is before looking in more detail at its development and characteristics.

What Is A Gale Force Wind?

What Is A Gale Force Wind

A gale force wind or gale is a strong, persistent wind ranging from 50 km/h or 31 mph to 102 km/h or 63 mph and is typically associated with but not limited to coastal regions. According to the Beaufort Scale, gale force winds can be broken down into four subcategories.

Typically, these strong winds are caused by a rapid drop in air pressure (indicated by a steep pressure gradient.) and usually associated with coastal regions.

It has to be noted that the US National Weather Service classifies a gale as a wind with speeds of 63 - 87 km/h (39 - 54 mph), so the classification of this type of wind may vary from one region to another.

Using the word gale to describe these strong winds is actually a very appropriate word choice when you look at the word's origins. The word gale stems from the Old Norse word "galinn," which literally means "frantic," "mad," or "tiresome."

Naturally, winds of this wind speeds can be very dangerous and destructive. As a result, whenever a gale is predicted, it is normal for weather forecasters to issue gale warnings.

The Beaufort Scale

Even though different countries and regions have different definitions of what a gale force wind is, using the Beaufort Scale has some clear advantages: 

Beaufort Scale

Diagram displaying part of the Beaufort Scale that contains the 4 categories of  gale force winds (highlighted in red). Click on image to view the full Beaufort Scale. 

It not only breaks down the different gale strengths into 4 separate categories, but each one is clearly defined with its own description and associated land & sea conditions highlighted.

It also shows where gale force winds sit in comparison with other wind strengths, which helps you to view any type of wind in context. It is helpful to assess the threat a gale poses and accurately convey relevant information to a third party familiar with this classification.

(The Beaufort Scale was created by Rear-Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort, a hydrologist in the Royal Navy in the 1830's. This scale was widely adopted throughout the Navy and even adapted for non-naval application in the 1850s.)


As is the case with most other weather phenomena, things are not as simple as the definition above may suggests. There are actually a number of different factors and weather systems that can form gale force winds in a variety of ways.

What Are The Cause Of Gale Force Winds

Wind is the result of air flowing from an area of high pressure to low pressure. This is the reason why there are almost always winds of varying strength present around a low-pressure system. 

(You can find out more about the formation of wind, as well as its relationship with high and low-pressure systems in this in-depth article.) 

tropical storm

Tropical storms, cyclones, and hurricanes illustrate this point very clearly. Depending on the low-pressure system's strength, winds of gale-force strength are reached very quickly and can quickly build up to reach hurricane strength wind speeds.

Gale force winds are not just formed as a result of storm systems, though. Sometimes, on a seemingly otherwise clear day and pleasant day, you can suddenly be hit by winds quickly building up to gale force speeds.

Anyone living at the coast, specifically in areas where the coastline's relief plays a part, may be very familiar with these winds. Simply put, a gale force wind in these areas can sometimes be seen as a "sea breeze on steroids"...

During summer months, both the surface of the ocean and land are heated up by the sun. The land heats up much more quickly than the ocean. During the afternoon, the land also cools down much quicker than the ocean.

A low-pressure system over land is created as a result. The warm air over the ocean flows towards the low-pressure system over land, and it is this air movement that is commonly referred to as a sea breeze.

This sea breeze can sometimes turn into a gale force winds in specific areas and under certain conditions. For example, Cape Town, South Africa, is notorious for its strong gale force winds often experienced during summer months.

These gale force winds at coastal regions are formed as a result of mainly 2 factors: 

  1. Occasionally, the difference between the low-pressure and high-pressure air over land and sea is so big that the breeze can quickly turn into a strong wind.
  2. The region's mountainous relief (like Cape Town) is responsible for amplifying the strength of these strong winds through a funnel effect. (The wind is being channeled through a narrow, low-lying area, substantially strengthening it and increasing wind speeds.)

This results in gale-force strength winds in certain areas among the Cape Peninsula. It is not that uncommon for winds to reach speeds of 120 km/h (75 mph).

San Francisco

Cape Town is just one example of this phenomenon that takes place in coastal regions all over the world. San Francisco is also famous for its strong gale-force winds during the summer months.

Here also, a combination of relief and the big contrast in ocean & land temperatures is also responsible for these strong winds. Especially in the San Francisco Bay Area, wind funnel through at the Golden Gate, reaching gale force speeds with gusts of up to 64 km/h (40 mph).

Conclusion

As you would have been able to conclude from this article, gale-force winds (or simply gales) are not winds specifically associated with any particular weather system.

Rather, winds are classified as gale force winds mainly because of the speed at which they are traveling. (Not where they take place or how they are formed.)

Therefore as already stated earlier, winds measuring between 7 and 10 on the Beaufort Scale,  indicating wind speeds of between 50 and 102 km/h (32 - 63 mph), are all considered to be gale-force winds.

We also touched on how these winds are generated, as well as briefly touching on the origins of the term to better understand its use.

Never miss out again when another interesting and helpful article is released and stay updated, while also receiving helpful tips & information by simply  following this link .

Until next time, keep your eye on the weather!

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What Is Dew Point, And How Does It Affect The Weather?

What Is Dew Point heading

"Dew Point" is a term we often hear during weather forecasts or meteorological discussions. This post examines what precisely dew point is, how it is reached, and its effect on the weather.

Dew point is the temperature below which the air can no longer contain water in its gaseous state, and condensation takes place resulting in water vapor either turning into its liquid or solid state. It is also the temperature where evaporation and condensation occur at the same rate.

Whether it is the large-scale formation of clouds in the atmosphere, or the droplets forming on the outside of a glass of cold water, it all occurs when temperatures reach and exceed dew point.

This article examines what exactly dew point is and how it is formed. It also takes a closer look at the relationship between dew point and humidity.

Dew Point Definition

During the introduction, you already received a brief description of what dew point is. To better understand its characteristics and development, though, one needs a more detailed and thorough definition of this meteorological event:

Dew point is the temperature below which the air can no longer contain water in its gaseous state, and condensation takes place resulting in water vapor either turning into its liquid or solid state. It is also the temperature where evaporation and condensation occur at the same rate.

When dew point occurs at ground level, water droplets form on plants and other objects in the form of dew. Hence the term, dew point.

The same process happens higher up in the atmosphere, where the formation of clouds results from the temperature dropping to below dew point level.

Basically then, the clouds we see in the sky, as well as the dew we see on the ground in the mornings, are essentially one and the same thing. Especially when you consider the way in which they are formed.

(Clouds are nothing more than water vapor that reached dew point and formed small water droplets as a result. After all, it is these small water droplets that make clouds visible in the first place.)

How And When Dew Point Is Reached

Understanding what dew point is may not be that difficult. All the variables and conditions that need to be in place, however, is not that simple and need some explanation.

Let's first have a look at how dew point is reached. In order to do this, first understand that dew point is very closely linked to relative humidity. (To find out more about humidity, you can read all about it in this article.)

For the sake of this argument, let's assume the barometric pressure and volume of air is constant and do not change in this scenario. Now let's say the relative humidity is 50% at 30 Degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit). 

As the temperature starts dropping, the relative humidity starts to rise. (As you will discover in the linked article above, air with a warmer temperature can hold more water vapor than the same air at a lower temperature. This simply means the lower the temperature, the higher the percentage of relative humidity.)

Once the temperature drops low enough for relative humidity to reach 100%, Dew Point is reached. This is the point where the maximum amount of water vapor can be held without condensation taking place. (Also, at 100% humidity, the actual temperature and dew point temperature are also exactly the same.)

If the temperature continues to drop below this level, condensation will take place, and water droplets will start forming.

Please Note: The scenario above is just a hypothetical example. Relative humidity DO NOT need to reach 100% in order for condensation and rain to take place. As long as the actual temperature drops to below the dew point temperature with enough water vapor in the air, cloud formation and rain can occur.

Relative humidity is just an indicator of the amount of moisture in the air relative to the actual temperature. It is not uncommon for relative humidity to be below 70% when rainfall occurs.

The exact calculation of how dew point is calculated is beyond the scope and not the purpose of this article and may be addressed in an upcoming post.

The Relationship Between Dew Point, Relative Humidity And Comfort Level

We all heard and used the expression, "It's not the heat, it's the humidity." The feeling we normally feel when we get hot and sweaty, yet the thermometer itself does not indicate an abnormally high temperature.

While it is partially true, and humidity does play a big part, the best way to measure the discomfort level we experience is actually best measured by the Dew Point.

Relative humidity can actually be 100%, yet it may still not be nearly as uncomfortable as a different situation where the relative humidity is around 70%. For this reason, relative humidity is a fairly poor indicator of comfort levels, and dew point is the chosen standard used by meteorologists to describe comfort/discomfort levels.

Relative Humidity And Dew Point

The illustration above will be used to try and best explain why this is the case. 

It is important that you keep in mind that the amount of discomfort or "humidity" you experience is a direct result of the actual amount of moisture in the air. And this is where relative humidity becomes a problem.

Relative humidity is the result of a calculation of the amount of moisture relative to the temperature in the air, not the specific amount of moisture actually present in the air. And this is what makes the dew point temperature a much more accurate and calculated indicator of the discomfort level you are experiencing. 

In the illustrator above, let's first take a look at Figure 1 to illustrate this. Both containers measure a relative humidity of 50%. Yet, it is clear that Container B contains much more water vapor than Container A.

Since the temperature in Container B is much higher, allowing the air to hold more moisture, the discomfort level is substantially higher than that in Container A. This is clearly indicated by the much higher dew point temperature of 26° Celsius (compared to the much lower dew point of 10 ° Celsius in Container A).

This point is reinforced in Figure 2. Even if the relative humidity is raised to 100% in Container A, and the air is fully saturated at a dew point of 21° Celsius, it is still below that of Container B, where nothing has changed, and the dew point remains at 26° Celsius as a result. 

This means in both cases, the level of discomfort in Container B is higher than that of Container A. This is evident as the relative humidity of Container A, even at a 100% in Figure 2, is still below the higher the dew point level of Container B. 

This simply shows that the higher temperature in Container B allows the air to contain a greater amount of water vapor, which is clearly reflected by the higher dew point temperatures in the illustration above.

The change from 50% relative humidity to 100% however, did not reflect the reality that the discomfort level (even at a 100% humidity), may not be as uncomfortable as the figures may imply. (As illustrated in the diagram above.)   

This is a bit of a mind-bender, and it takes a while to wrap your head around it. You may need to reread this part a couple of times to make sense of it all. 

Just know that humidity definitely plays a big part in the discomfort levels we sometimes feel, but the actual discomfort level is much better reflected by the dew point temperature than the relative humidity.

Conclusion

By now, you will have a much clearer picture of what exactly dew point is, how it is formed, as well as its effect on the environment.

We also delved into the more complex relationship between relative humidity and dew point and its role in the level of discomfort we feel.

Never miss out again when another interesting and helpful article is released and stay updated, while also receiving helpful tips & information by simply following this link .

Until next time, keep your eye on the weather!

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What Is The Coriolis Effect And How Does It Affect Our Weather?

What Is The Coriolis Effect heading

Some readers will be vaguely familiar with the meteorological phenomenon, while others may never had heard of the Coriolis Effect. We take a close look at the Coriolis Effect, what it is, and how it works.

The Coriolis Effect describes the force generated by the Earth's eastward rotation, which results in air movement being deflected to the right in the Northern Hemisphere and to the left in the Southern Hemisphere. It is one of the primary driving forces of global wind patterns and weather events.

The Coriolis Effect is so important, in fact, that it influences almost every significant weather event occurring around the world. And it all directly results from the Earth's rotation:

The Coriolis Effect is caused by the Earth's rotation from west to east. This causes a deflection in air movement as it travels away from Polar & Equatorial regions, respectively. 

This phenomenon is responsible for the formation of some of the world's largest weather systems like hurricanes, typhoons, and tropical storms, as well as repeating circulating air masses like Trade Winds.

The principle may sound simplistic, but understanding it is a bit more complex. If one simply tries to put it into words, it won't make sense. For this reason, we will use an analogy alongside the appropriate illustrations to explain the principle in practice.

We will then continue and illustrate how it applies to the earth's rotation and its influence on weather systems and events, wherever it is formed on the planet.

How Exactly Does The Coriolis Effect Works

To best understand the earth's rotation, and the resulting influences on global wind movements, the analogy of a playground merry-go-round will be used.

merry-go-round

You can use the illustration above to better understand the process. The merry-go-round is viewed from the top to best explain how the Coriolis Effect works.

Imagine the merry-go-round is spinning counterclockwise at a rapid speed. On the platform, the person in green and blue would have both completed one full rotation as the merry-go-round completed one rotation.

But, (as all of us who have been on the merry-go-round will know), the green figure would have traveled much faster and covered a bigger distance than the blue figure sitting closer to the center of the merry-go-round in the same period of time.

When viewed from the top, the earth works in exactly the same way. This means the blue figure will represent the two polar regions, while the green figure the tropical regions.

Global Surface Speeds

Now let's flip the map sideways as we would normally view a map of the world (as illustrated in the image above). The same principle explained in the previous section still applies, but from this view, the Coriolis Effect can be much better explained and viewed.

It is important to note that the speed of rotation in the tropics (indicated in green) is much faster than the speed of rotation at the poles (indicated in blue). This is the main driving force of the Coriolis Effect.

Global Wind Movement

The illustration above shows you exactly how the moving air is affected once it starts deviating away from the tropics and polar regions, respectively.

Atmospheric elements (like moist air and clouds) at the tropics will always move at the same speed as the planet's surface below. If it is pushed off course by any air movement and starts moving north or south, it starts drifting over an increasingly slower moving surface.

As a result, the clouds or moist air will move faster than the surface below it as it continues to drift further away from the center of the earth. (Indicated by the red arrows in the illustration above.)

A similar but opposite scenario occurs to atmospheric elements originating over the poles. Atmospheric elements (like moist air and clouds) at the polar regions will also always move at the same speed as the planet's surface below. In this case, however, if it is pushed off course by any air movement and starts moving north or south, it starts drifting over an increasingly faster-moving surface.

As a result, the clouds or moist air will move slower than the surface below it as it continues to drift further away to the north at the Antarctic and to the south at the North Pole. (Indicated by the blue arrows in the illustration above.)

So the question remains. How does the Coriolis Effect cause and influence global weather systems around the world?

Low Pressure System

The illustrations above will give you a clear example of how just one type of weather system is formed as a result of the Coriolis Effect.

We now know that air moving away from the equator moves faster than the earth's surface beneath it. At the same time, air moving away from the poles moves slower than the earth's surface beneath it.

Now let's introduce a low-pressure system to the scenario. The air from both the equator and polar region will be pulled towards and start rotating around the low-pressure system (Air always flow from an area of high pressure to an area of low-pressure)

In the Northern Hemisphere, as illustrated above, this forms a counterclockwise rotation of winds around the low-pressure system. Over a warm ocean, hot moist air feeds the low-pressure system, which in turn strengthens the wind rotation around it.

And this is exactly how a tropical depression is formed, which can develop into a tropical storm and even eventually form a hurricane if the weather system grows strong enough. 

(You can read in detail how exactly low-pressure systems and the surrounding winds develop hurricanes & typhoons in this article.)

In the Southern Hemisphere, the winds accelerate and rotate to the left as it moves away from the equator. This is indicated with the red arrows in the second illustration above.

As a result, the exact same weather systems that form in the Northern Hemisphere around a low-pressure system can form in the Southern Hemisphere. It applies to all low-pressure weather formations, from a small tropical depression to a typhoon. With one big difference...

This big difference being the rotation of weather systems. The wind in these systems is always clockwise as a result of the Coriolis Effect. This means all low-pressure systems in the Southern Hemisphere rotate clockwise, unlike their counterparts in the Northern Hemisphere.

Effects Of The Coriolis Effect

In explaining what the Coriolis Effect is, some of the biggest weather systems caused by this global phenomena has already been highlighted. Hurricanes, tropical cyclones, and typhoons (all basically the same thing) have already been mentioned, as well as how the Coriolis Effect assists in their creation.

It also has a similar but opposite effect on high-pressure systems around the world. Winds rotate away from the center of a high-pressure system (as opposed to low-pressure systems). As a result, high-pressure weather systems rotate clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.

Another very important result of the Coriolis Effect is the creation of Trade Winds. As air is warmed in the Tropics and starts moving in a northerly direction, it is deflected to the right as a result of the Coriolis Effect.

As the air cools down, it descends back to earth (at about 30 degrees north latitude). As the air descends, it moves back to the equator from the Northeast to the Southwest. These big persistent circular air masses are called Trade Winds. 

A more indirect impact of the Coriolis Effect is the effect on the world's ocean currents. Ocean currents are mostly driven by global winds. As most of the earth's largest currents circulate around the high-pressure regions called gyres, the impact of the Coriolis Effect is very evident here too.

Conclusion

I honestly don't blame you if your head is spinning from reading through all the terms like "rotation, right, left, clockwise, counterclockwise and deviating" spread throughout this entire article.

If everything is a bit unclear, just read through the article a couple of times and use the accompanying illustrations to better understand exactly how the Coriolis Effect works. It gets easier and more understandable. Just give it time.

I hope this article managed to shed some light on this sometimes "mysterious" but very important part of our global weather and climate called the Coriolis Effect.

Never miss out again when another interesting and helpful article is released and stay updated, while also receiving helpful tips & information by simply  following this link .

Until next time, keep your eye on the weather!

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15 Weather Gadgets And Tools To Enhance Your Weather Experience And Brighten Up Your Study Or Room

15 Weather Gadgets For You To Enjoy Review heading

Yes, you take your passion for all things weather very seriously. But sometimes you are looking for something weather related you just enjoy using, love looking at, or just need to enhance the look of your study, bedroom or lounge.

Well, that is exactly what this post is all about. We are having a look at just about everything weather related. From a "simple map" to a comprehensive weather station setup (and everything in between), I included a bit of everything.

As a result, I put together a collection of 15 weather related items, simple and complex, cheap and expensive, as well as fragile and robust. Somewhere in this mixed bunch I am sure you will find something you didn't even know even existed. (I know I didn't.)

Enjoy browsing through this interesting list...

1) Del Milan 3 in 1 Classic Weather Station

Del Milan 3 in 1 Weather Station

If like me, you enjoy the classic and timeless look of "old" weather meters used during the early years of home weather monitoring, you will really find the Del Milan Weather Station irresistible.

Perfect to be hanged in you study, studio, or in any space for that matter will definitely add a touch of class to the room. But if you think it's just a beautiful ornament to brighten up your living space, you are sorely mistaken...

This is a fully functioning weather station. It features a barometer, thermometer and hygrometer for measuring air pressure, temperature and humidity respectively.

With a very solid built quality and classy finish in teak wood, this is one addition to your weather collection that will never go out of fashion.  

Get more information and pricing on the Del Milan 3 in 1 Classic Weather Station here.

2) ThermoPro TP55 Indoor Thermometer

When you're a desktop computer enthusiast, there is no such thing as having enough memory. If you're a fashion conscious model, you can never enough shoes. Similarly, for some weather enthusiasts, they can have never have enough weather stations.

I know, I am just generalising here. Besides, it is a bit impractical to have weather station in every room. (Not to mention the unnecessary amount of cables, radio signals, and having to make sense of all the data you receive from each device.)

ThermoPro TP55 Digital Hygrometer Indoor Thermometer

Still, even if you only have one primary weather station you use to gather and process all your weather data, it's always nice to have something nearby to display your immediate surroundings' atmospheric conditions.

The little ThermoPro TP55 Indoor Thermometer does that. This inexpensive and compact weather station can sit comfortably in the corner of your desk.

With an easy-to-read and informative display, it keeps you updated at all times of all the important weather conditions by just quickly glancing at it.

If you want to find out more about this handy little indoor weather station, I cover it in more detail in this post. 

3) Meteorology Manual: The Practical Guide to the Weather

As much of we would like to think so, even the most experienced "weather expert" among us don't know everything. If you are a newbie in the world of weather, this handy book will be invaluable to help you learn all the workings of the weather and all its variables.

It covers all the major weather systems, terminologies and how everything is working with, or against each other.  

Meteorology Manual: The Practical Guide to the Weather

It is also packed with illustrations to make everything easy to understand. Each of the 174 pages are filled with valuable information.

It is not the "Ultimate Guide", covering every single detail of the weather and all its workings in the finest detail by any means.

Still, it is quite a comprehensive guide to our weather and climate, from explaining something as simple as simple as barometric pressure, to describing the Coriolis Effect and its circulation around the world.

Don't be fooled into thinking this book is just for beginners though. It serves as a handy reference guide for any weather enthusiast to keep nearby to look up some forgotten term, or explain a certain cloud system you haven't seen before.

Get more information and pricing on the Meteorology Manual here.

4) Ambient Weather WS-208T 9" Brushed Aluminum Thermometer

Why?

Well, to be honest... Because it just looks so classy and beautiful. Yes, it may be a personal and a biased opinion. but I am sure many of you will agree that this 9 inch thermometer with its metallic bezel and radiant blue background, really is an eye-catching instrument. 

Ambient Weather WS-208T 9 Inch Brushed Aluminum Contemporary Thermometer

And far from just being ornamental, the WS-208T is a fully functional thermometer. After all, this simple thermometer is made by the same company known for their accurate and highly regarded basic & advanced electronic weather stations. 

Off-course you can get a multifunction weather meter for the same price (or just as accurate a thermometer as the WS-208T ten times smaller if you like), but that is hardly the point of this thermometer.

If you want something to brighten up and add some class to your surroundings, the WS-208T may just be the perfect addition to your study or den.  

Get more information and pricing on the Ambient Weather WS-208T 9" Thermometer here.

5) AcuRite 00795A2 Galileo Thermometer with Glass Globe Barometer

Similarly to the Ambient WS-208T discussed in the previous section, the AcuRite Galileo Thermometer serves a dual purpose, also with emphasis on the ornamental side. 

AcuRite 00795A2 Galileo Thermometer with Glass Globe Barometer

As the name suggests, this thermometer-barometer combination is based on the principles and techniques used by Galileo Galilei, the famous Italian inventor, astronomer and physicist who revolutionized the way we look at astronomy & science in the 1600's

If you are a fan of this visionary man, often called the "father of observational astronomy" and the "father of modern science", then you will love this weather device.

The thermometer comes in a cylindrical shape, while the barometer is shaped like a globe with a map of the world etched into the glass service.

The thermometer is filled with colorful liquid-filled spheres that ascend and descends, depending on the types of changes in atmospheric conditions.  The barometer is filled with a blue liquid (also called a storm glass, or Goethe barometer), that changes in height to correspond with changes in barometric pressure.

Mounted on a wooden stand, this thermometer-barometer device will liven up your desk space, without taking up unnecessary space. (An is surprisingly accurate as well!)

Get more information and pricing on the AcuRite 00795A2 Galileo here.

6) La Crosse Technology WT-3161WH 16 Inch Stainless Steel Atomic Clock

Many of us are very finicky about time. Being on time has become an obsession for many individuals and companies. So much so, that people's character are being judged to a large extend by their ability to keep time.

Well, if you are willing to settle for a clock that lose a second every 138 million years, the La Crosse WT-3161WH will be good enough to satisfy your needs.

La Crosse Technology WT-3161WH 16 Inch Stainless Steel Atomic Clock

As the name suggests, it is an atomic clock, the most accurate type of clock in the world, which keeps time so accurately, that it is measured to loose only one second every 138 million years, as already mentioned.

It still use the "old" quartz technology now standard in millions of watches. It is kept accurate though, by running an electrical current through an atom (normally caesium-133), and use its oscillations to adjust and keep the clock accurate.  

Being an atomic clock, the La Crosse clock will automatically keep accurate time and automatically correct any deviation from the correct time.

So, if you are looking for a good-looking wall clock that you can put up and literally forget about, knowing it will always show you the correct time, then look no further than the Crosse WT-3161WH atomic clock. 

Get more information and pricing on the La Crosse Technology WT-3161WH Atomic Clock here.

7) Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know

I know I am venturing into dangerous territory by just mentioning the subject, as this a very controversial subject, with some of the most extreme opposite views I ever encountered.

But, having said that, if people are looking for a reason to criticize and attack you, they will find one. No matter how carefully you tread.

Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know

I believe if you really want to be a true and unbiased weather enthusiast, you would want to arm yourself with as much accurate information as possible. 

When it comes to client change, I believe this book will give you the most unbiased and factual information about this very real growing global problem. 

Well, if you are willing to take the red pill and see how deep the red rabbit hole really goes, I can recommend you take a serious look at this informative and sobering book.

Get more information and pricing on "Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know" here.

8) Kestrel 5500 Pocket Weather Meter

If you're the guy or girl who love hiking and camping or just being out in nature for love periods of time, you will absolutely fall in love with this tool.

Kestrel 5500 Pocket Weather Meter

What you get, is literally a complete weather station that can fit into you pocket. 14 Atmospheric variables can be measured, including temperature, humidity, wind speed & direction, as well as barometric pressure.

Additional features like a digital compass and altimeter meter makes this a very useful tool for those of you planning on taking a trip into the unknown.

Needless to say, since this device is meant to be used in challenging conditions, it is both shockproof (MIL-STD-810G) and waterproof (IP67).

The impeller (for wind speed) is one part of the device that can be prone to damage, but a cover that can quickly slide out and back in place, provides ample protection.

A backlit display makes using the Kestrel easy in low-light conditions. Despite all these functions, the Kestrel 5500 is powered by a single AA battery. With a superior lithium battery, this pocket-sized device can run for up to 400 hours.

I can go on and on about this fascinating "Leatherman" of compact weather devices, but you get the general idea.

Get more information and pricing on the Kestrel 5500 Pocket Weather Meter here.

9) Advantus 12 Inch Desktop World Globe

You can literally find a map of the world online by just a few clicks of a button. The smallest and least known town anywhere in the world is now ridiculously easy to find.

Yet, when weather systems or specific wind patterns in certain parts of the world are discussed, it feels a little abstract to us and we sometimes get a sense of being disconnected.

It's simply because looking at a map on a screen or piece of paper, doesn't really help you to get a proper idea and feeling of where in the world a weather event is taking place and its context on the larger global scale.

Advantus 12 Inch Desktop World Globe

Having an actual physical representation of the world in the form of an accurate rotating globe, helps you to form a much clearer idea of exactly where a weather event is taking place, and everything just starts to make a little more sense and becomes that much more real to you.

This is exactly what the Advantus 12 Inch Desktop World Globe does for you. Quickly finding a location on the globe, and then rotating and tilting it in specific directions to follow a weather event or movement, will sometimes explain a specific topic or principle in better detail than any amount of words ever can.

The 12 inch map shows you all the countries in the word, including all major regions and major cities. With the equator clearly indicated, raised relief (for accurately depiction mountainous and other raised terrain), and including latitude and longitude indicators,  make the experience that much enjoyable and easy for you to use.

At 12 inches in diameter, it is big enough without taking up too much space. Sturdily build and standing on a solid base, this globe will also last you a lifetime.

I honestly cannot imagine any true geography or weather enthu this siast without the assistance of globe in their office or study to help then orientate themselves every once in a while. (And yes, it adds to the look and feel of your environment as well.)  

Get more information and pricing on the Advantus 12 Inch Desktop World Globe here.

10) Del Milan Banjo Barometer, Thermometer, Hygrometer, Carbon Fiber Finish

Del Milan Banjo Barometer,-Thermometer,-Hygrometer, Carbon Fibre -Finish

Very much the same as the Del Milan 3 in 1 Classic Weather Station mentioned in the beginning of this post, this classically shaped weather meter is just another take on the weather meters used during the early years of weather monitoring.

I am sure you will agree that this particular interpretation and shape, makes this weather station especially appealing. Finished in stunning carbon fibre, this instrument will stand out in any location.

As an alternative (or addition) to the first Del Milan mentioned in this post, you cannot go wrong with this classy weather station. 

Get more information and pricing on the Del Milan Banjo here.

11) Climate Maps (Map It!)

This is one for the slightly more advanced weather enthusiast. As you advance through your weather journey, learn more about all the aspects of climate and change, yo're are going to come across climate maps at some point.

Climate Maps (Map-It!)

At this stage you may or may not already know what they are, but do you know how to read and understand them?

This guide takes you through the whole process, from explaining what exactly climate maps are, to understand and correctly use them. (It even includes information on using a legend and compass rose to assist you in the process.)

Get more information and pricing on the Climate Maps (Map It!) here.

12) Ambient Weather WS-2902A Osprey Wireless Weather Station

When you start out as a beginner weather enthusiast, a small indoor weather station will be more than adequate to get your feet wet and learn the weather basics.  

As you advance and get more knowledgeable, your needs will outgrow the capabilities of your "starter" system in time.

Ambient Weather WS2902

When you start looking at something to replace your basic weather station with a more advanced one. But also one that can potentially last you for a much longer time, as your investment will be substantially bigger.

Recently I went through this process, and after some extensive research, I invested in the Ambient Weather WS-2902A Osprey Weather Station. I am happy to report that I am very satisfied with my purchase (although months after my purchase I haven't even made use of almost half the functions available on this weather station.)

It definitely is not the only worthwhile and quality advanced weather station available, but one I can wholeheartedly recommend to anyone looking for an advanced weather station.

You can view my full report on the Ambient Weather WS-2902A Weather Station here.

13) CAT S41 Rugged Waterproof Smartphone

If you plan to be a storm chaser, or just spend extended periods of time out in nature, you would want a communication device, specifically a cell phone, that will be able to withstand everything that nature can throw at it.

CAT-S41

And cell phones come no tougher than the CAT S41. This rugged smartphone was designed from the ground up survive the most severe conditions it can be subjected to. Needless to say this is not the cheapest Android phone on the market.

However, this is not the type of phone you are going to replace every 2 years, and taking all the features it packs into consideration, this makes it a very worthwhile investment. 

Some of the features include:

  • Military Standard Shock And Drop Proof Up To 1.8 meters (6 feet)
  • Battery Standby Time Of Up To 44 Hours (Talk Time Around 38 Hours)
  • Waterproof Up To 2 meters (6.5 Feet)
  • 5 Inch Full Hd Scratch Proof Gorilla Glass
  • Bright Display Can Be Read In Direct Sunlight
  • Internal Storage Upgradable To 2Tb

Obviously this phone is not for everyone, but if you are a serious outdoor enthusiast, this may be just the kind of reliability and security you are looking for.

Get more information and pricing on the CAT S41 Rugged Waterproof Smartphone here.

14) Weather Map Handbook, 3rd ed.

This guide is one for the beginner, as well as the advanced weather enthusiast or even the professional meteorologist. 

Weather Map Handbook

At some point many of us are going to have to learn to read weather maps and charts. And not just the simple ones we see on television and online weather reports. 

Detailed meteorological charts my look like a some weird kind of hieroglyphic collection. If you plan to go far in your pursuit to understand and even pursue a professional career in meteorology, you will need to read and understand these charts at some point.

I realize the vast majority of us will never reach this stage, but for those of you who are serious to learn everything there is to know about all forms of weather maps and charts, this comprehensive encyclopedia covers just about any kind of map/chart created from almost every possible source.

Get more information and pricing on the Weather Map Handbook here.

15) Kaito KA500 Emergency Weather Alert Radio

A very handy, and sometimes necessary & lifesaving piece of kit. This multi-purpose radio is built for hardcore outdoor enthusiasts, especially those who spend long periods of time in the wild, or on the water.

Kaito-KA500

Able to be operated by the 3 different power sources, it can be hand-cranked, solar powered and have a battery backup. 

You have access to FM, AM, 2 shortwave,  as well as 7 pre-programmed NOAA weather channels (for real-time forecasting in the USA and Canada).

Other accessories include a built-in flashlight, reading light, and red emergency beacon light. It even includes a USB charger for your cell phone or MP3 player.

Naturally, it is fully water-resistant and impact-resistant to deal with all the harsh outdoor conditions it might be subjected to. 

Get more information and pricing on the Kaito KA500 Emergency Weather Alert Radio here. 

Conclusion

With these 15 products, you now have a variety of choices to choose from. From a purely functional to mainly ornamental need, there is really something for everyone in here.

Some of these products can be considered necessities, while others are just optional extras, while some can be used for ornamental purposes only. All of them serves a function though, so you will be able to find a use for each of them.

Feel free to leave me any comments, questions or suggestions, and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Remember to join my  Mailing List  to be informed whenever a new article is released, and share new developments and helpful hints & tips.

Until next time, keep your eye on the weather!

Wessel

Want To Look Like A Weather Pro? The Davis Instruments Vantage Vue Weather Station Lets You Do Just That

Davis Vantage Vue Review heading

We follow this path with every hobby, sport or interest we decide to pursue. We start with the basics, and after mastering them we move on to more advanced equipment. At some point though, we have reached the point where we have become so proficient and experienced in our chosen field, that you may require nothing but the best possible equipment in your field.

At some point during the process of pursuing our hobby or passion for all things weather related, you will reach this stage. You have gone through all the beginner and advanced home weather stations, but now only the best and most accurate equipment will meet your requirements.

Enter Davis Instruments line of professional weather systems. Often called the gold standard for all weather equipment, or the "Rolls Royce of home weather stations". These accolades are well deserved.

This company has been around, providing weather enthusiasts and professionals, with accurate and reliable weather data, long before home weather stations became more common and affordable. (And with so many manufacturers & models to choose from.)

With a history dating back more than 50 years, the company has expanded since and are currently servicing various sectors and industries. Luckily this does not mean they neglected their home weather stations.

If you are looking for the best weather station money can buy, Davis Instruments is by far your best choice. When it comes to accuracy and reliability, they simply are in league of their own. With it comes the inevitable bigger price tag. (But totally justified).

Davis Instruments Vantage Vue Box

The Davis Instruments Vantage Pro2 is the flagship and best weather station in their consumer line-up. However, its smaller brother, the Davis Instruments 6250 Vantage Vue, provides you with measurements and features almost on par with Vantage Pro2 at a much more affordable price.

As the Davis Instruments Vantage Vue is the focus of this post, you can rest assured that the little you sacrifice in accuracy at this level, is really negligible.

Using my Ambient Weather WS-2902A Osprey, as well as a fellow weather enthusiast's Davis Vantage Vue as reference points, I will be looking at all the features, as well as how well it performs in order to help you to make the best possible decision. 

Installation And Setup

The Vantage Vue comes packaged in a sturdy box, with the different components securely and safely packaged in two compartments. Just by the feel and look of packaging, you already get a feeling of quality and attention to detail.

The wind vane and anemometer are packaged in the top compartment with the rest of the assembly accessible in the compartment below it.

The plastics have a high-quality look and feel to them, and the included Allen Key helps securely attaching all the components to the sensor assembly a breeze.

Vantage Vue Assembly

As you can see in the picture above, basically all the components and necessary tools to assemble them, are easy to recognise and simple to assemble. A comprehensive user guide is included to help you assemble the outdoor sensor assembly quickly and pain free.  

Also included is a set of brackets and bolts to attach your assembly to a 1 - 1.75 inch pole. You will need a 7/16 inch wrench for fixing the assembly to the pole, but this is almost the only additional tool you need for the sensor assembly. (Obviously you are responsible for where and how you will install your pole.)

Follow the rest of the steps laid out in the manual, but make sure your sensor array is pointing in the right direction, depending on which hemisphere you find yourself in. (The solar panel should face south in the Northern Hemisphere, and north in the Southern Hemisphere.) Your wind sensor is calibrated for a southward facing panel, so make sure you make the necessary adjustment on your console if you live in the Southern Hemisphere.

Setting up your inside display console takes a bit longer. After installing the batteries and AC power adapter, you will hear 3 consecutive beeps, telling you the unit is switched on and ready to be set up.

Once again, the instruction manual makes the setup process easy for you by taking you through the whole procedure step-by-step. Make sure you follow all the steps, as this will make sure your weather station function correctly and accurately.

Take specific care to correctly set up your longitude and latitude location, height above sea level, as well as the month the rainy season in your region normally starts. Do this correctly and you will ensure your weather station functions correctly for your location.

Follow the other steps in the setup as well. After you finished setting up your console, simple press and hold the "Done" button, and that's it. Your basic setup is done.

For an advanced weather station, this a very straight-forward and hassle-free setup. (I would judge the setup time and complexity to be no longer than that of my Ambient Weather WS-2902A Osprey.)

You can find additional information and pricing on the Davis Instruments 6250 Vantage Vue here.

​Performance, Quality And Accuracy

The Sensor Array

After correctly installing and setting up both your sensor array and display console, you should start receiving data within a minute. I recommend leaving it for a couple of days to "settle in" while observing the measurements to get a feel for all the data and where it is displayed on your console.

Before getting into specific detail, there is one conclusion made by many other Vantage Vue owners, which I can very definitively confirm: The Davis Instruments 6250 Vantage Vue is one very serious high-end weather station. You are going to have to look very long and hard to find a more accurate and reliable system at this price point.

Vantage Vue Sensor Array

It comes with a comprehensive set of outdoor sensors, all of which are displayed and frequently updated on the display console. Compared to other weather stations that get sensor updates with intervals of between 15 seconds to a minute on average (depending on your weather device), the Vantage Vue sensor array sends sensor updates with intervals as short as 2.5 seconds (depending on the sensor), making it lightning quick and easy to monitor measurements in "real time".  

Apart from the accurate measurements and very frequent sensor data updates, another standout feature, is the maximum wireless distance capability of the Vantage Vue. The sensor array and display console can be set up to 1000 feet (300 meters) apart. This is really impressive indeed, especially if you take into consideration most wireless weather station have a maximum range of around 300 feet (91 meters).

The 5-in-1 outdoor sensor array covers all the important weather variables that are necessary for accurate and comprehensive measurement and forecasting. (Yes, you get weather stations with more sensors included, which are often heavily promoted. These are optional sensors however that won't really add any substantial value to your ability to accurately monitor and forecast the weather conditions.)  

Here is a summary of the features and advantages of the sensor array:

  • Quick & Easy Installation
  • Temperature Measurement 
  • Barometric Pressure Measurement
  • Rainfall Measurement
  • Wind Speed Measurement
  • Wind Direction Measurement
  • Transmitting Distance Of Up To 1000 feet (300 meters)
  • Highly Accurate Measurements
  • High-Quality And Durable Built
  • Solar Powered
  • Very Short Intervals Between Sending Of Data (Depending On Sensor)

Here is a summary of some of the disadvantages of the sensor array:

  • Sensors Cannot Be Placed Individually (All Forms Part Of One Unit)
  • Perceived Lack Of Full Sensor Array (Some Cheaper Stations offer More Sensors) 
  • Inability To Add Additional Sensors

The Display Console

The display console draws a mixed reaction. First of all, it is a rugged and well-constructed unit that looks and feels like it can withstand some rough treatment.

The LCD mono screen is clear with a backlit display and "glow-in-the-dark" buttons to help you operate the unit during low-light conditions.

Davis Vantage Vue Display Console

The data is also displayed in a logical fashion, and serious weather enthusiasts will have no problem quickly glancing at the display and get all the information they are looking for.

Essentially all the weather data measured is displayed simultaneously on the unit, so you can find all the important weather information you are looking for without having to go through extra menus or pressing any additional buttons.

A graph showing weather trends for different variables (like temperature, rainfall and barometric) are also displayed at the bottom of the screen. This graph is programmable, so you can set the variable which trend you want to follow.    

But its not all good news...

As well-build and logically laid-out as the display is, it has a very dated looking display.

The Display Console looks very outdated. This is especially evident when unboxing the weather station and viewing it next to the much more modern looking sensor array. Viewing it alongside display consoles of weather stations more than half its price make this outdated look even more obvious.

I may be a bit critical here, but for a high-end weather station at this price point, you really deserve much better, 

A HD colour display really would have made the world of difference without adding to the cost of the station. Using colour will also help to highlight and distinguish between the many different variables on the display much more clearly. Which brings me to the second drawback of the display.

As already mentioned, the display console shows almost all the data it measures on the screen. Although logically laid-out, the sheer amount of information can be overwhelming for the new user, or inhibiting if you quickly want to vue a particular piece of data.

A colour display will go a long way towards improving the readability of the display and make the display as a whole look much more organized. The cost of high-quality HD displays have dropped dramatically in price over recent years, so this really should not have an impact on a premium weather station in this price bracket.

I did some research, and it has been pointed out that this display console was designed more than 20 years ago. I have no evidence to back up this claim, but judging from the looks of the display, this claim may not be far off. "Come on Davis Instruments, give us a display worthy of the quality and high standard of the rest of your weather station."

Here is a summary of the features and advantages of the sensor array:

  • Solid Build Quality
  • Clear Display With Logically Laid-Out Buttons For Quick & Easy Access
  • Backlit Screen and "Glow-In-The-Dark" Buttons For Low Light Operation 
  • Temperature Display (Inside & Outside)
  • Barometric Pressure Display (Inside & Outside)
  • Rainfall Measurement Display (Outside)
  • Wind Speed Display (Inside & Outside)
  • Wind Direction Indicator (Inside & Outside)
  • Humidity Display (Inside & Outside)
  • Weather Trend Graphic Display
  • AC Adapter
  • Battery Backup
  • Forecasting Icons (For Changes in Weather Conditions Over The Next 12 Hours)
  • Date & Time Display
  • Multiple Alarms For Various Weather Events
  • Included Kickstand Or Foldout Legs
  • Sunrise & Sunset Display
  • Moon Phase Display
  • Ability To Change Between Empirical And Metric Display 

Here is a summary of some of the disadvantages of the sensor array:

  • Visibly Outdated Display
  • No Built-In Internet Connectivity
  • WiFi Not Standard

Wireless Connection Setup (Optional)

Unfortunately, this is the one area where the Vantage Vue falls short. In an era where internet connectivity is a given on all modern electronic devices, the fact that this feature doesn't come standard on this premium weather station is quite disappointing.

WeatherlinIP

You can connect the Vantage Vue to the Internet, including its own app and website or a third party service like Weather Underground. You need to purchase the WeatherlinkIP Data Logger however, a seperate and rather costly piece of hardware in order to do so.

This criticism is not aimed to put you off from what is otherwise a top-of-the-line device that is in a league of its own in almost every other way. It is just an important fact you should be aware of before you make any kind of decision.

This will also help to bypass the shortcomings of the display, by viewing all your data in detail and in real-time on your laptop or mobile device.

You can find additional information and pricing on the Davis Instruments 6250 Vantage Vue here. 

Conclusion

So, this leaves you with probably the most important question. Is the Davis Instruments 6250 Vantage Vue worth the high price tag?

In a nutshell the answer is yes, without a doubt. Its unparalleled accuracy when it comes to data measuring and forecasting, as well as build-quality and reliability, makes it more than worth the prize.

Yes, the outdated display console and lack of built-in internet connectivity are drawbacks, but not enough to disqualify it as the best choice for a premium weather station.

(In all fairness, there are ways of working around the problem. Yes, it will cost you more and take more time to set up. However, if you are serious and passionate enough to consider a home weather station in this class, going the extra mile will not be too much of an issue)

For more information and pricing on the Davis Instruments 6250 Vantage Vue, simply follow this link.

Feel free to leave me any comments, questions or suggestions, and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Remember to join my  Mailing List  to be informed whenever a new article is released, and share new developments and helpful hints & tips.

Until next time, keep your eye on the weather!

Wessel



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