History of Meteorology

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meteorology is the subdiscipline of atmospheric science that studies weather and climate using physics, chemistry, and other sciences. The term meteorology is derived from Aristotle's Meteorologica (350 b.c.e.). The first official regular weather reports were seen in China (1060 b.c.e.) with the first regular European weather observations in 500 b.c.e. The Ancient Greeks were the first to divide the world into temperature zones, and Aristotle was the first to articulate the hydrologic cycle, describing the circulation and conservation of the Earth's water using the evaporation and condensation cycle.

scientific measurement

It was not until Rene Descartes's Les Meteores (1637 c.e.) that an attempt was made to establish the scientific basis of meteorology. Meteorology was nothing more than observational speculation prior to the scientific age, when devices for measuring and studying weather were invented, and the keeping of systematic weather records began. Galileo Galilei invented the water thermometer for measuring absolute temperatures in 1593, and may have constructed the first thermoscope for measuring temperature changes in 1607. Evangelista Torricelli invented (1643) the mercury barometer that detected atmospheric pressure changes, making possible the observation that drops in pressure substantially correlate with the advent of storms (in 1644). Blaise Pascal noted, in 1648, that atmospheric pressure decreased with increasing altitude, deducing a vacuum above the Earth's atmosphere, and, in 1667, Robert Hooke invented the anemometer for measuring wind speed.

Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit created the mercury thermometer with his temperature scale in 1714, followed by Anders Celsius's alternative temperature scale in 1735, which was adopted in Napoleon's empire in the early 1800s. The daily observation of basic changes in air pressure, moisture, and the direction and speed of the wind was instituted by Laurent Lavoisie in 1765. Horace de Saussure's hair hygrometer (1780) for determining humidity provided the last major instrumentation, and one of the final measuring standards necessary to move meteorology from observation into research and theorization. Luke Howard's cloud classification system (1802) and Francis Beaufort's wind speed scale (1806) provided additional observational tools.

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