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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Meteorology

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Being that we are the third rock from the sun, we constantly are interacting with its’ atmosphere and weather. Meteorology plays a constant role in our everyday lifestyle. It affects us as individuals also businesses such as agriculture as well as travel. It is important to understand the fundamentals of how this meteorology system works.


First of we all know that the sun gives out heat. Along with the heat the sun also sends out energy in the form as solar radiation. Solar radiation can pass through space and the gases in the atmosphere. Solar energy heats anything that it hits. Energy cannot be made or destroyed, but it can change from one form to another. Energy is either potential energy, (stored energy) or kinetic energy, (movement energy).The sun is very hot and emits solar radiation. The energy from solar radiation can be changed to heat energy as in solar heating, electrical energy using a photovoltaic cell as in solar cars, and to chemical energy by photosynthesis in green plants (http//www.sustainableenergy.qld.edu.au/html/what.html).


There is a popular misconception that the seasons on the Earth are caused by varying distances of the Earth from the Sun on its elliptical orbit. This is not correct. One way to see that this reasoning may be in error is to note that the seasons are out of phase in the Northern and Southern hemispheres when it is Summer in the North it is Winter in the South. The primary cause of the seasons is the .5 degree of the Earths rotation axis with respect to the plane of the ecliptic, This means that as the Earth goes around its orbit the Northern hemisphere is at various times oriented more toward and more away from the Sun, and likewise for the Southern hemisphere (http//csep10.phys.utk.edu/astr161/lect/time/seasons.html).


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Air pressure and fronts define arctic atmospheric circulation patterns. Air pressure is a measure of the force exerted by air on all objects. Air pressure is related to temperature. Given equal volumes, warm air is lighter (less dense) than cold air and consequently exerts less pressure Changes in air pressure often signify weather changes. Rising air pressure usually means fair weather, whereas falling air pressure generally signals stormy weather. This is because a drop in air pressure often indicates that a cyclone, or low pressure system, is moving into an area, bringing clouds and precipitation. A rise in air pressure frequently means that an anticyclone, or high pressure system is moving into an area, bringing fair weather. A change in air pressure signals the advance or passage of a front. Fronts are the narrow transition-zone boundaries separating two air masses of contrasting properties (temperature and humidity). Low pressure systems often develop along frontal boundaries and cloud cover and precipitation often occurs in the vicinity of fronts.Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air and can be described in different ways, including relative humidity, which is the term used most often in weather information meant for the public. Relative humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air compared with the amount of vapor needed to make the air saturated at the airs current temperature. Humidity is a measure of the amount of water vapor in the air, not the total amount of vapor and liquid. For clouds to form, and rain to start, the air does have to reach 100% relative humidity, but only where the clouds are forming or where the rain is coming from. This normally happens when the air rises and cools. Often, rain will be falling from clouds where the humidity is 100% into air with a lower humidity. Some water from the rain evaporates into the air its falling through, increasing the humidity, but usually not enough to bring the humidity up to 100% (http//nsidc.org/arcticmet/factors/pressure.html).


The earth’s atmosphere is interesting. The Earth is surrounded by a blanket of air which we call the atmosphere. It reaches over 560 kilometers (48 miles) from the surface of the Earth, so we are only able to see what occurs fairly close to the ground. Early attempts at studying the nature of the atmosphere used clues from the weather, the beautiful multi-colored sunsets and sunrises, and the twinkling of stars. With the use of sensitive instruments from space, we are able to get a better view of the functioning of our atmosphere. Everything one earth is supported by the atmosphere, solar energy, and our plaent’s magnetic field. The atmosphere absorbs the energy from the Sun, recycles water and other chemicals, and works with the electrical and magnetic forces to provide a moderate climate. The atmosphere also protects us from high-energy radiation and the frigid vacuum of space. The envelope of gas surrounding the Earth changes from the ground up. Four distinct layers have been identified using thermal characteristics (temperature changes), chemical composition, movement, and density (http//liftoff.msfc.nasa.gov/academy/space/atmosphere.html).


A meteorologist job is try to predict what the weather will be. They use all kinds of equipment to come up with this data. Hundreds of thousands of pieces of data are collected every day from weather stations, radiosondes, satellites, and observers. To process this amount of information requires ever more powerful computers to perform the millions of calculations per second needed to model and predict the worlds ever changing weather. The mathematics of weather forecasting are very complex. Surprisingly, most information about the weather is collected by small automated land-based weather stations around the world. This has, to a large extent, replaced networks of observers around the country. Often these weather stations are similar to one you might find in a home or school garden. They are housed in a Stevenson screen or box which shelters the measuring instruments from direct sunlight and rain, whilst allowing air to flow freely. Some are still visited by observers who copy the information down by hand. One helpful devise is satellite. Satellite-derived data helps improve the accuracy of weather forecasts. The information and pictures we can get help us to understand how weather works. They also help us to anticipate weather events better for example, hurricane warnings (http//www.bbc.co.uk/weather/features/basics_fronts.shtml.


The pattern of a weather system is not consistent because the weather is constantly changing. Air masses and accompanying fronts do not remain stationary for long. Although their movements are never exactly the same, they do exhibit some patterns that help meteorologists and others predict the weather. The boundary between two air masses is called a front. As a result, moving fronts indicate a change in the weather. On a weather map fronts are drawn where there is a large change in temperature and a shift in wind direction. A front can also be described as the boundary between adjacent Highs with different conditions


(http//vathena.arc.nasa.gov/curric/weather/hsweathr/patterns.html).


In conclusion, understanding the earth and its atmosphere is very important for the future of this planet. It is critical that we as individuals in society start taking care of this planet by reducing pollution and recycling so that the next generation can live in a healthy environment.





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