As an art, weather forecasting started with several early civilisations, utilising meteorological and astronomical events. This enabled meteorologists to monitor seasonal weather changes. The Babylonians attempted predicting short-term changes, based upon optical phenomena like haloes, and appearance of clouds at around 650 B.C. Chinese developers also came up with the calendar, dividing a year into 24 festivals, each getting associated with a different weather type.


field on a background of the blue sky

Aristotle’s four volume text was seen by many as the authority of weather theory, for nearly 2000 years.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle, at around 340 B.C., wrote a philosophical treatise, Meteorologica, which included theories regarding formation of hail, rain, wind, lightning, thunder, and hurricanes. Moreover, topics like geography, astronomy, and chemistry also were addressed. This individual made quite some remarkable and acute observations about the weather, but also a host of significant errors. His text of four volumes was seen by many as authority of weather theory, for nearly 2000 years.

Quite a few claims made by Aristotle were rather erroneous with many ideas he fronted being overthrown in the 17th century. Throughout centuries, there have been attempts of producing forecasts depending upon personal observations and weather lore. Nevertheless, when the Renaissance came to an end, speculations by natural philosophers had evidently become insufficient.

Greater knowledge, therefore, was now necessary in order to further understand the atmosphere. Instruments were required for assessing atmospheric properties for this to happen, like temperature, pressure, and moisture. Nicholas Cusa described the first hygrometer design known in western civilisation, which is an instrument used for measuring air humidity, in mid-fifteenth century.

An early thermometer got invented by Galileo Galilei in 1592. Evangelista Torricelli was the person who then would invent a barometer in 1643 for gauging atmospheric pressure. These instruments of meteorology were refined during the seventeenth up to the nineteenth centuries. Other related theoretical, observational and technological developments did as well contribute to present knowledge about the atmosphere.

Invention and emergence of the telegraph networks in the mid-nineteenth century permitted for routine weather observation transmissions, to and from compilers, and observers. Crude weather maps, using the data got drawn; with surface wind patterns as well as stormy systems were identified and studied. Stations for observing the weather started appearing all over the globe. This action eventually gave birth to synoptic forecasting of weather, based upon compilation, and analysis of multiple observations done simultaneously in 1860s over a wide area.

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