Doppler Radar, Satellites, and Computer Models: The Science of Weather Forecasting
By: Paul Fleisher
Publisher: Lerner Publications
Publication Date: September 2010
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: September 2010
Many people watch the evening news weather reports each night to find out how the weather will be in their area for the upcoming week. Sometimes they have something they want to do outside, they have a vacation coming and want to know if the weather will be good, or if serious storms are coming they want to know all about them just in case they need to make preparations. Just how weather predictions are made, how meteorologists go about their task of formulating a forecast and the science of weather forecasting are just a few of the things you'll find in this book. The science of weather forecasting may sound quite simple, but in actuality it is quite a complicated science.
Inclement weather can be very disruptive to our lives and can cause delays in transportation, floods, drought, and many other serious problems, but "weather forecasts can save lives" and "forecasters can protect livelihoods." In order to make a prediction we need to know the current weather conditions, worldwide weather conditions, and we "need to understand weather patterns. There are many bits of information we need to gather such as air pressure, humidity, and wind direction because the more information you have, the more accurate your forecast will be. The job of a meteorologist has become much more sophisticated and high-tech than it was just a few decades ago. The meteorologist uses "the most high-tech equipment to take local measurements and taps into weather information from around the world."
Our National Weather Service operates 24/7 and collects information from "121 weather stations around the country." A full 187 countries "also gather weather information" and belong to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). In this book you'll get right down to the nitty gritty and learn how a forecast is made with everything from weather balloons to Doppler radar, a type of "radar that can measure the speed and direction of moving objects such as raindrops and snowflakes." Scientists send out alerts when inclement weather is approaching and you'll learn the difference between a watch, a warning, and an advisory. You'll learn about composite radar images, Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES), Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellites (POES), "super computers," you'll learn how to read a weather map, you'll learn weather lingo, how to make your own predictions, how and why forecasters can err in their predictions, you'll learn about climate change and much more. Sound interesting? It sure is!
There is a wealth of information in this book that will really give the young student an understanding about how weather predictions are made, not only by the backyard weather forecaster, but by those who use the most sophisticated, high-tech equipment available. I found the information to be of high interest and feel it may spur many students on to begin taking an interest in meteorology and what is actually going on weather wise not only in their own communities, but the world around them. There are many full color photographs, map reproductions (including Doppler, computer drawn, NOAA, etc.), and numerous informative sidebars. In the back of the book is a section on "Forecasting Folklore," an index, a glossary, and additional recommended book and website resources to explore.
Quill says: This is a very clear, concise, well written book about the science of weather forecasting for the budding meteorologist.