Weather Instruments > Meteorologists
Reading Weather Instruments
Weather is a term that describes the various phenomena which occur in the
atmosphere of a planet. These diverse weather events result from
temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure differences.
Pressure differences create wind, storm fronts, and large-scale events
such as hurricanes and tornadoes. Humidity and the sun's warmth
provide conditions for various types of clouds and resulting precipitation
in the form of rain, snow and hail. Weather is measured by a variety
of instruments, which range in complexity from simple thermometers and
barometers to satellites that
orbit the earth. Meteorologists use weather satellites to track
weather patterns as well as long-term climate changes.
Thermometers are used to measure temperature on both the Celsius and Fahrenheit scales; they come in many shapes and sizes, ranging from a simple glass tube filled with mercury or colored alcohol to digital and computerized models. Barometers are used to measure atmospheric pressure. A falling barometer tends to indicate coming precipitation, and a rising barometer indicates clear weather. Sharp fluctuations in pressure often indicate violent weather conditions. Anemometer instruments measure wind speed, and weather vanes can be used to indicate wind direction.
Scientific weather forecasters make use of a weather balloon that is made of latex or Chloroprene. The balloon carries a small instrument called a radiosonde that measures atmospheric pressure, temperature, and humidity. The radiosonde can be tracked by radar, radio direction finder, or Global Positioning System (GPS) to obtain wind data. The weather balloon is filled with lighter-than-air hydrogen or helium gas; its ascent route is controlled by the amount of gas used to fill the balloon. These weather balloons may reach altitudes of 25 miles (40 km) or more, and their weather instrument packages are usually lost when the balloons disintegrate at these high altitudes.
Watch: Anemometer and Weather Vane
Many automated weather-collecting devices are now in use. These are especially helpful for weather forecasters and pilots, because they measure temperature, barometric pressure, and wind speed, as well as wind direction, precipitation levels, and visibility. This detailed, immediate data is often provided in the form of a computerized weather map that shows current weather conditions and patterns. Computers are one of the most important tools used for tracking and predicting weather. Through the use of the Internet, weather information can be collated and disseminated in useful and easy to understand formats.
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