35 Answered Questions for the topic Meteorology
Meteorology Physical Science
What causes the 'calm before the storm'?
The old adage "The calm before the storm" certainly has an observational scientific meaning to it -- something that many (including myself) have experienced -- that on a hot summer's day, when a... more
Do clouds float on anything?
Clouds of the same type have such a consistent altitude, it appears as if they're floating on an invisible layer. Is this true? Put another way, is there a significant change in air composition at... more
Is there a reliable way to identify regions with negatively-correlated winds?
When examining the potential for large-scale electricity grids, and when identifying the lowest-cost ways to generate clean electricity, a recurring theme is of spreading wind generation across a... more
What is the motivation of using the Enhanced Fujita Scale in place of the Fujita Scale?
In 2007, the US started using an Enhanced Fujita Scale in place of the Fujita Scale. From a "civilian's" perspective, the Fujita Scale seemed to measure wind whereas the Enhanced Fujita Scale... more
Why do certain areas on Earth have a higher or lower air pressure at sea level?
For instance, looking at [this map of world air pressure in January](http://www.mapsofworld.com/world-maps/wind-and-pressure-jan-enlarge-map1.html) and [this map of... more
What determines how fast clouds move?
Do cirrus clouds in the upper troposphere move faster than cumulus and stratus clouds in the lower atmosphere? What about clouds associated with extratropical systems, compared with clouds in the... more
Sea breeze - magnitude of horizontal pressure gradient?
What is the range of horizontal pressure gradients typically caused by the differential heating of land and water under sea breeze conditions?
Can an Atlantic hurricane enter Mediterranean sea?
I can't find any examples, has it just never happened before or is it impossible because of environmental factors?
What are the key differences between warm and cold core cyclones?
What are the key differences between warm and cold core cyclones? What is an example of each?
Synoptic weather predictibility under climate change scenarios?
Under climate change scenarios, it is quite certain that high latitude regions will experience more warming than at low latitudes. For example, in winter the reduced area of sea ice and snow cover... more
Are the "polar vortex" and "cut-off lows" over/near the Great Lakes new phenomena?
In recent years, I've heard weather reporters describe "cut-off" low pressure systems which park over Southern Ontario for days at a time. In summer months, they bring us long stretches of cool... more
Why is the diurnal temperature range on the Cascade volcanoes so small?
Ski-mountaineering in the Pacific Northwest I am frustrated that the snow pack isn't refreezing at night. There is about a 20F difference between the day and night temperatures in Seattle. Looking... more
Propagation of sound after lightning?
In an area of frequent thunderstorms, I notice a 'crack or whoosh' sound if a strike is nearby but little or no thunder. Yet I can hear for 30 seconds or so after a distant flash when the thunder... more
Is there a seasonal difference in the average cloud floor?
It always looks like clouds are so much higher in the sky (altitude) in the summer than in the winter. Is that true? If not, is there some sort of optical illusion? If so, why is that? I live in... more
Are there any quantities defined analogically to the virtual temperature, but for other gases?
The [virtual temperature](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_temperature) is a pseudo-temperature taking into account water vapour in the atmosphere in such a way, that the resulting quantity... more
Why are there different vertical gradients of temperature in different layers of the atmosphere?
The temperature of the troposphere decreases with altitude whereas it is opposite in the stratosphere and again fluctuates. Why is this so?
What is the difference between an inertial instability and a symmetric instability?
Inertial and symmetric instabilities are fluid instabilities present in atmosphere and ocean. What are the difference between an inertial instability and a symmetric instability?
St. Elmo's Fire not dangerous?
I know that St. Elmo's Fire is a form of plasma that occurs during thunderstorms that is similar to lightning because it is formed by a difference in charges. But why isn't it dangerous if St.... more
Is the urban heat island effect stronger during a particular season or part of the year?
It is known that cities tend to be warmer than the surrounding landscapes, and this is known as the "urban heat island effect". In the summer there is greater heat output from air conditioning... more
What does the notation "kg kg-1" for units mean for specific humidity?
I am using a data set from Justin Sheffield at Princeton that includes specific humidity. The description is as follows: >"Reanalysis 6-hourly specific humidity interpolated to 1.0deg with... more
Water on Mars and Earth?
If water on Earth came from meteorites, why doesn't Mars have substantial water? What made it more highly probable on Earth than on Mars?
Why doesn't the sun reach its highest point overhead at exactly 12:00 noon?
Many sources state that 12:00 noon is the high-point or mid-point of the sun's path across the sky. However, for where I am, this is obviously wrong. In my own town the high point of the sun... more
What is the cause of the jet streams?
Jet streams are fast-flowing currents of air in our earth's atmosphere. An enormous amount of energy is necessary to keep a jet stream going. Where does this come from and why?
Is there a database of global rainfall time series?
Is there any institute out there collecting time series data of precipitation, and making them accessible online? I need data for a few different locations, but: * Low spatial resolution is fine.... more
If it rains harder, does it mean the rain's duration will be shorter?
If it rains real hard, is there a chance the rain's duration will be shorter? I think the if the rain in the clouds disperses with such force the rain will be over faster than if it was just a... more