Observation Techniques
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Introduction: Observation Weather Techniques
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Whether we like it or not, the weather plays an important part in our lives. It influences all aspects of our lives from the food we eat to the way we feel. For example, a violent hailstorm can damage crops and property consequently forcing food prices and insurance premiums to rise. Heat waves can dramatically increase daily water consumption levels. Fire fighters urgently await wind changes to help control the most ferocious fires. A slight drop in the temperature of the air can lead to the formation of frosts that can damage crops. In the long term, droughts can be so severe that authorities may introduce water restrictions. The list is endless.

There are certain aspects of the weather and its effects that are out of our control although there are certain steps that we can take to help reduce damage and save lives. You cannot adequately cover all crops and houses from hailstorms but keeping indoors can save lives. Putting cars under cover can help reduce the overall damage bill. Do we simply leave it up to the meteorologists to forecast the weather and blame them if they get it wrong? Or should we take at least some responsibility in making simple weather predictions? The purpose of this document is to cover as many types of observation techniques as possible so that any reader can expand their knowledge on predicting weather that concern them. The structure of the document has been designed to take into account the varying experiences of readers. It is arranged into three parts: simple, moderately advanced and highly advanced weather observation techniques.

The simple weather techniques is aimed at those with very limited knowledge of the weather. This section introduces some of the most basic weather observation concepts including observations of cloud, sunrises and sunsets, precipitation, fog, frost, temperature and so on. Probably the most difficult part is the detailed description of cloud movements over the earth's spherical surface, since the earth is really as close as you can get to a sphere.

Although this particular section may be difficult, it is important in preparing observers for the more advanced section. For those who find this section too basic and are getting bored, just read the section on cloud observations and move on.

The more advanced section of this document discusses more complex observation techniques which require knowledge of changing situations. The cloud classification system is introduced which aims to expand the observers knowledge of clouds from a more structured perspective. Other topics include night observations, observations of clouds as ever-changing systems, and thunderstorms.

The highly advanced section (WHICH IS NOT YET AVAILABLE) deals with the most intricate aspects of observational meteorology. Techniques that require several simultaneous observations to form weather predictions are discussed. Such weather predictions may vary from those affecting the immediate area to those extending into other regions. The time scale may also extend from a few hours up to a few days in advance. Many case studies are used to illustrate various weather situations. It is hoped that the observer can then adapt the techniques to the climate and weather in their local region since not all types of weather conditions can be discussed.

Remember, this section is not meant as a training for weather forecasters but to at least allow for people to be aware of what may be happening around them. For instance, there were a few instances when I was in Malta (August 1996) on holidays that I predicted severe weather to occur. Stratus feeding into a line of altocumulus castellanus was good reason to predict even hailstorms if it occurred in Sydney. It turned out that everything cleared and nothing happened. Does this mean I was wrong? That night, I heard on the news that severe weather had struck Italy located just to the north of Malta: obviously part of this line that had cleared Malta. So you must be careful how adventurous you get when forecasting with observations.

Document: index2.htm
Updated: 18th March 2008

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