How much science is there in meteorology?

How much science is there in meteorology?

As I am sitting here this week getting ready to launch my first online weather workshop, there were news headlines about student performance in the latest round of standardized tests here in the state of South Dakota. I won’t go into all of that, but one thing that did catch my attention was the science score. It was the lowest one on the list reported, with around 40% of students proficient in the subject. It got me to thinking about the materials I’ve been building for my workshops and perhaps I should take a moment and explain how much science we do in weather. Believe it or not, it’s not just throwing darts and guessing tomorrow’s forecast! It makes me laugh when people give me a hard time about my job, that’s what 20 years of doing this will do!

Out of curiosity, I looked up a standardized science test for 8th grade and another for the 11th grade just to see how much meteorology subject areas I could find. I had never really considered those tests at all when I built the first workshop. But it really dawned on me how many subject areas we cover in our area of science. It’s one of the reasons TV meteorologists often get to wear the hat of “station scientist”. I answer questions about space weather, volcanoes, pollen counts, corn yields, monarch butterfly migrations, and headaches causes by changes in barometric pressure. Those are just random subjects that I can rattle off the top of my head! If I actually sat down and thought more about it, I could give you a long list of ways meteorology plays a hand in so many wonderful fields of science. Here are just SOME of the subject areas covered in weather 101.

  • Kinetic Energy
  • Conduction
  • Convection
  • Evaporation
  • Latent Heat
  • Phase Change of Water
  • Features on a Weather Map
  • Solar Radiation
  • Gravity
  • Density
  • Albedo
  • Friction
  • Forces
  • Velocity
  • Coriolis Effect
  • Ideal Gas Law
  • Properties of Molecules

Whoa….I know that’s a big list, but you can tie all of it into a daily weather forecast. You just have to unpack it and look a little closer! Science can be and should be fun. Weather is something we can all relate to, but much of it passes us by without looking at details. I loved weather as a child and I’ve never stopped wondering how the weather works. In fact, getting these workshops together has sharpened my thinking about how my forecasts work in the real world.

Well, that list above just scratches the surface. If you want to take your knowledge of science a new direction, these workshops can offer a unique way to learn about physics, chemistry, and whole lot more! My goal is to find fun and new ways to explain these subject. Our new email address is weatherworkshops@gmail.com and I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have!

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