Category Weather

What is Weather?


Somewhere on the earth right now, it is cloudy and rainy. Somewhere it is sunny. Somewhere it is dark, windy, and snowing.

What is the weather like today where you are? Is it raining? Does it look as if it’s about to snow? Is the sun shining?

Do you ever talk about the weather? Many people do. Almost everyone cares about the weather.

The weather affects us in many ways. Day-to-day changes in weather can influence how we feel and the way we look at the world. Severe weather, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and blizzards, can disrupt many people’s lives because of the destruction they cause.

Weather doesn’t just stay in one place. It moves, and changes from hour to hour or day to day. Over many years, certain conditions become familiar weather in an area. The average weather in a specific region, as well as its variations and extremes over many years, is called climate.

There are six main components, or parts, of weather. They are temperature, atmospheric pressure, wind, humidity, precipitation, and cloudiness. Together, these components describe the weather at any given time. These changing components, along with the knowledge of atmospheric processes, help meteorologists – scientists who study weather – forecast what the weather will be in the near future.

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How can scientists control the weather?

            Since the 1940s scientists have discovered techniques by which. Several weather conditions can be controlled. For example, it is pos­sible’ to prevent lightning by using an electrical earth to diffuse the electrical content of a cloud. The American scientist V. J. Schaefer has shown .that it is feasible to produce greater concentrations of ice in clouds than occur under normal conditions.

            Weather experts already are taking advantage of these dis­coveries to increase snowfall on mountains for winter sports, to prevent damaging hailstones and to moderate, or even prevent, the development of dangerous storms. Scientists are now able, in some cases, to make a cloud burst to produce rainfall over parched areas.

            These local efforts may lead the way to large-scale weather con­trol. But before then scientists may’ have to learn to cope with the damaging effect of air pollu­tion on weather conditions.

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Climate Extremes



Can sand dunes move?

Sand dunes can move slowly, causing deserts to spread over more fertile land. Continuous winds blow the sand to form crescent-shaped dunes. Sand from the top of the dune is blown farther away, and it gradually collects to form a new dune.

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How can people live in extreme climates?

Over millions of years, the human body has altered to suit the climate of the regions we inhabit. In general the hotter the region, the darker the skin of its inhabitants. Also, many people from Asia have a fold of skin in their eyelid to protect them from strong sunlight. People living in hot climates do not need a fat layer to keep warm, so they are usually slim. The Inuits of the Arctic, however, are mostly shorter and stockier to help conserve heat. 

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Which are the wettest places on the Earth?

Tropical rainforests are among the wettest places in the world. In general, most rainfall occurs on the sides of hills and mountains. The wettest place of all is Cherrapunji, in Assam, India. It faces the full force of the monsoon winds that sweep in from the Indian Ocean in July. Their warm, damp air rises in the Himalayan foothills, causing torrential rain. Mount Wai-‘ale-‘ale in Hawaii has the wet days each year. It rains on 350 days on average, and the annual rainfall is the highest recorded anywhere.

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Climate Extremes


What is permafrost?

Permafrost is a layer of ice and frozen soil that never thaws. It lies beneath nearly one-quarter of the Earth’s surface, throughout Alaska, Canada and Russia. Sometimes the soil in these places is frozen to a depth of up to 1,500 m. The surface layers may melt enough in summer for plants to grow, but the soil beneath is permanently frozen.

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Are there places where nothing can live?

Hot volcanic lava is probably the only place on the Earth’s surface where there is no life at all. Living things have evolved to survive in the harshest environments. Tiny bacteria can be found everywhere on the Earth, even buried in thick ice at the poles or in the very deepest parts of the ocean. 

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Climate Extremes



Where are the most extreme temperatures found?

Libya and the Antarctic have recorded the most extreme temperatures. The hottest shade temperature was in Libya in 1922, when the temperature in the Sahara desert reached 58 °C. Temperatures nearly as high as this were recorded in Death Valley in the USA in 1913. The coldest ever recorded temperature was in Antarctica in 1983, when Russian scientists measured a temperature low of – 89.2°C.

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The desert process

Deserts were once green and fertile areas, until a climate change altered them permanently. Just a small reduction in rainfall causes plants to die off. Without plant roots to bind and nourish the soil, the land gradually becomes barren. Soon the animals move away, and only desert remains. Very few deserts are completely barren, and plants and animals have evolved to live in the driest conditions, conserving their body water so they do not need to rely on rainfall.

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Climate Extremes


Are there cold deserts?

Antarctica is the biggest cold desert in the world. All of its water is locked up in ice and snow, so nothing can grow. The Gobi desert in Mongolia and western China is also very cold in the winter, when temperatures drop below freezing. However, it is hot in the summer.

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What is a mirage?

Mirages form in hot deserts, where the air is so hot it bends and distorts light rays. The shimmering images that a mirage produces have often tricked travellers in deserts. People think that they can see a town or oasis on the horizon, but in reality there is none. 

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Climate Extremes

Where is the world’s driest place?

The world’s driest place is the Atacama Desert in Chile. It is a narrow strip between the Andes and the Pacific, where the first rain for 400 years fell in 1971. Like other hot deserts, the Atacama lies in a region where air pressure is constantly high, with little air movement or cloud. Rainfall is very low in other deserts. Near Cairo, Egypt, annual rainfall averages about 28 mm each year, while in Bahrain, on the edge of the Arabian Desert, there is as much as 81 mm of rainfall. The rain may come in a single heavy storm, and some years there is no rainfall at all. 

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How much of the world is covered by desert?

About one-third of the world’s land surface is covered by desert. Desserts are found wherever there is too little water to allow much plant life to grow. This lack of vegetation leaves large areas of soil exposed. The largest desert in the world is the Sahara in Africa. It has an area of about 9 million sq km. 

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An understanding of the weather is often vital to daily life – framers, for example, require information about the weather to try and protect their crops. Extremes of weather can ruin entire crops.

Sometimes even our safety depends on knowing about weather conditions. With advance warning of a major storm, ships or aeroplanes can be routed away from danger. Flood warnings can be issued and people moved to a safe area.

Farmers need to irrigate, or water, their crops if there is no rain.

Heavy rain can cause rivers to burst their banks and flood large areas of land.


When we say “The Sun is shining”, we are talking about the weather. However, when we say “It’s always sunny here”, we are talking about the climate. The climate describes the way weather behaves over many years. The climate depends on many factors, including how far from the equator a place is. Weather is caused by changes in the ‘atmosphere’ – the layer of air surrounding the Earth.

Generally, weather and climate are caused by parts of the world becoming warmer than others when the Sun’s rays heat the Earth’s surface. These differences in temperature make the air move and these air movements cause the different types of weather we know.

The changing weather – hot, sunny conditions in summer heavy snow in winter. Some parts of the world get hurricanes – very strong winds.


Winds carry warm and cold air around the world. Knowing which way the wind is blowing is a useful guide to the type of weather we can expect. Around the world, there are many differences in temperature. Air in contact with hot land or sea is warmed. As warm air is lighter than cooler air, it rises. Cooler air then moves in to take its place. This movement of air is what we call wind.

Winds can be extremely powerful; they can knock down trees, and can push along boats fitted with sails. The map shows the routes of the main winds across the globe. These routes were once followed by sailing ships carrying their cargoes around the world.


Sea breezes

As the Sun shines, air over the land is heated more than air over the sea, and this hot air rises. Cooler air from over the sea moves in to take its place.

The hot air cools as it rises, but it does not fall straight back down. Instead, it spreads out over the sea and falls down there. This circular air current causes an onshore breeze.





The map shows the major winds of the world.










Yachts with the wind in their sails