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Meteorology

Benjamin L. Lamptey,
Regional Maritime University

October 26, 2009


2
Contents

1 Introduction 11

2 Composition and Structure of the Atmosphere 13


2.1 Composition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
2.2 Vertical divisions of the atmosphere . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
2.3 Some Features . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16

3 Meteorological Observations 19
3.1 Recording and Reporting weather observations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
3.2 Observations aboard a ship . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
3.3 Barometry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
3.3.1 The first Mercury Barometer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
3.3.2 Barometers on board ship (Marine mercurial barometers) . . . . . . 22
3.3.3 Aneroid Barometers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
3.3.4 Precision Aneroid Barometer (PAB) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
3.3.5 Barographs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
3.3.6 Station Level Pressure (QFE) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
3.3.7 Reduction of pressure to standard levels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
3.4 Temperature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
3.4.1 Thermometry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
3.5 Moist Air . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
3.6 Miscellaneous . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
3.7 A typical land station: Tema Harbour Meteorological Station . . . . . . . . 36

4 Atmospheric Thermodynamics 39
4.1 Ideal Gas Laws . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
4.1.1 Boyles law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
4.1.2 Charles law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
4.1.3 Gay-Lussacs or Pressure law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
4.2 Daltons law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
4.3 Van der Waals equation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40

3
4 CONTENTS

4.4 Virtual temperature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41


4.5 Potential Temperature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
4.6 First Law of Thermodynamics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
4.7 Moisture in the Atmosphere . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
4.7.1 Water Vapour . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
4.7.2 Humidity Elements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
4.7.3 Condensation, Sublimation and Freezing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
4.8 Heat Exchanges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
4.9 Heat Transfer Processes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
4.10 The Vertical Stability of the atmosphere . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
4.10.1 Adiabatic Processes in the Atmosphere . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
4.10.2 Static Stability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
4.10.3 Atmospheric Turbulence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49

5 Circulation of the Atmosphere 53


5.1 Temperature Variation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
5.2 Circulation cells on a rotating earth: Coriolis Force . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
5.3 Mean surface pressure and wind distribution:Hadley Cell Circulation . . . . 54
5.4 Geostrophic wind scale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
5.5 Estimating wind force - Beaufort Scale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
5.6 Some Terminologies associated with the wind . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
5.7 True and Apparent Winds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
5.7.1 Example 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
5.7.2 Example 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
5.7.3 Example 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
5.8 Monsoons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
5.9 Local Winds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
5.9.1 Sea and Land Breeze . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
5.9.2 Katabatic Winds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
5.9.3 Anabatic Winds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
5.9.4 Fohn Winds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
5.9.5 Mountain Waves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
5.9.6 Turbulence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
5.9.7 Clear Air Turbulence (CAT) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
5.9.8 Jet Streams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
5.9.9 Climates of the oceans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60

6 Cloud and Precipitation 67


6.1 Water in the atmosphere . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
6.2 Principal cloud types . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68
6.2.1 Formation and dispersal of clouds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
CONTENTS 5

6.3 Precipitation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
6.3.1 General Causes of Cloud and precipitation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71

7 Visibility and Fog 75


7.1 Factors affecting visibility . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75
7.1.1 Haze . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75
7.1.2 Mist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76
7.1.3 Fog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76
7.1.4 Estimating Visibility at Sea . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78

8 Air Masses: Frontal and synoptic Systems 79

9 Fronts 81
9.1 Kinds of front . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
9.2 Types of Fronts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82

10 Extra-tropical Depressions 87
10.1 Formation of frontal depression (on polar fronts) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87
10.2 The Occlusion Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89
10.3 Non frontal depressions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92

11 Principal Isobaric System 95


11.1 Pressure Pattern . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95
11.2 High or Anticyclone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95
11.3 Low or Cyclone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95
11.4 Ridge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96
11.5 Trough . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96
11.6 Col . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97

12 Tropical Revolving Storms 99


12.1 Common terms associated with TRS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102

13 Ice 105
13.1 Main types of ice and their origins (Classification of ice) . . . . . . . . . . . 105
13.2 Coastal and Open Ocean Visibility . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107
13.3 Probable indication . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107
13.4 Precautions; Navigating in ice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107

14 Ice Accretion 109


14.1 Hazards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109
14.2 Nature of Icing at sea . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109
6 CONTENTS

15 Ocean Currents 111


15.1 Surface water circulation of the ocean and principal adjoining sea . . . . . . 114
15.2 Upwelling, Tides and Storm Surges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114
15.3 Principal Warm Currents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114
15.4 Principal Cold Currents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114

16 The characteristics of ocean waves 115

17 Weather Hazards 117

18 Weather Services for Shipping 119


18.1 The Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120

19 Weather Forecasting 121


19.1 Forecasting Sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121
19.1.1 Single Observer Forecasting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121

20 Maritime related issues 125


20.1 International Maritime Organization (IMO) and IUCN? . . . . . . . . . . . 125
20.2 Some news . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 125
20.3 Revised MARPOL Annex VI and NOx Technical Code published by IMO . 125
20.4 Some Maritime Terminologies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 126
.1 Meteorological Station Instruments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128
.2 Anticyclones . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128
List of Tables

2.1 Fractional concentrations by volume of the major gaseous constituents of


the Earths atmosphere up to an altitude of 105km, with respect to dry air.
(Source: Wallace and Hobbs, 2006) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

3.1 Lapse rate, temperature, pressure associated with certain altitudes . . . . . 25


3.2 VOLUNTARY OBSERVING SHIP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35

6.1 Approximate height-ranges at which bases of clouds are found . . . . . . . . 70

9.1 Comparison between warm and cold fronts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83

10.1 Comparison between Frontogenesis and Frontolysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88

12.1 Table showing storm location, season and names . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99

13.1 Comparison between Iceberg and River Ice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 106

20.1 Remember, never use vertical lines in tables. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127

7
8 LIST OF TABLES
List of Figures

2.1 Vertical profile of the atmosphere (source:http://www.meto.umd.edu/ owen/CHPI/IMAGES/profile.htm

3.1 Meteorological observation station model (source:http://visual.merriam-webster.com/earth/meteorology/


model.php) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
3.2 How the barometer works . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
3.3 Aneroid Barometer (source:http://www.bom.gov.au/info/ftweather/page 15.shtml) 30
3.4 Precision Aneroid Barometer (PAB) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
3.5 A Barograph . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
3.6 Thermometers showing the Kelvin, Celsius and Fahrenheit scales (source:http://www.stuffintheair.com/th

5.1 Geostrophic Wind Scale is shown inserted in the upper left corner of the chart 56
5.2 Circulation cells on a non rotating earth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61
5.3 Circulation cells on a rotating earth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61
5.4 Circulation cells on a rotating earth with names of the winds . . . . . . . . 62
5.5 (a) Ideal Zonal Pressure Belts, (b) Actual Zonal Pressure Belts . . . . . . 63
5.6 Wind in geostrophic balance flowing (A) along parallel and (B) curved isobars 63
5.7 Frictionless circulation around closed isobars in the Northern Hemisphere . 64
5.8 Frictionless circulation around closed isobars in the Southern Hemisphere . 64
5.9 Friction causing geostrophic wind to cross parallel isobars toward low pressure 65
5.10 Daytime development of sea breeze . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
5.11 Nighttime Development of land breeze . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66

6.1 International cloud symbols (source:www.visualdictionaryonline.com) . . . . 69

9.1 Atmospheric cross-section of a cold front . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83


9.2 Atmospheric cross-section of a warm front . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84
9.3 Atmospheric cross-section of an occluded front . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
9.4 Stationary front on a map (source:http://www.atmos.uiuc.edu/snodgrss/Fronts lab.html) 86

10.1 Cold occlusion (source:http://www.atmos.uiuc.edu/ snodgrss/Fronts lab.html) 91

11.1 An illustration of the principal Isobaric patterns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97

9
10 LIST OF FIGURES

19.1 U.K. Met. Office Synoptic chart showing the present synoptic situation . . 123
19.2 U.K. Met. Office Synoptic chart showing the forecast synoptic situation
forty-eight hours ahead . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124

1 Installations and instruments required to conduct meteorological observa-


tions on the ground
(source:http://visual.merriam-webster.com/earth/meteorology/meteorological-
station.php) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128
Chapter 1

Introduction

The following must definitely be included:

1. Instruments:

2. Storms: stages

3. Ice: basic forms, how they are formed, areas where they form

4. Depressions:

Air masses (British Isles winter),


Fronts (life history of warm sector depression),
Type of weather to be detected depending on observers location (e.g. north of
apex, south of apex),
Type of weather associated with fronts,
Type of occlusion
Parameters of interest: pressure, wind, cloud, temperature, visibility, weather
Avoidance ProceduresRegulations

5. Wind: (1) Geostrophic wind and (2) Surface wind on weather charts, (3) Determine
1 and 2 at a given station, (4) Winds of the ocean

6. Ocean currents: Meditteranean, Atlantic, China sea (Japan), North Sea, Indian
Ocean

7. Forecasting

11
12 CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION
Chapter 2

Composition and Structure of the


Atmosphere

2.1 Composition
The atmosphere is a mixture of dry air, water vapour and a suspension of minute particles
of solid substances. The percentage by mass composition of dry air remains constant with
height up to about 80 km. If an air sample taken from any region within 80 km of the
Earths surface is analyzed , the relative proportions of its major constituent gases are
found to vary by no more than a few thousands of one per cent provided that any water
vapour is first removed. Water vapour is very important in cloud formation. It is the
most variable constituent. The composition of gases in the atmosphere are approximately
78% of Nitrogen, 21% of Oxygen and 1% of other gases (see table 2.1). The gases become
thinner until it gradually reaches space. Carbon dioxide, Ozone have peculiar radiative
characteristics. They absorb long-wave radiation.

13
14 CHAPTER 2. COMPOSITION AND STRUCTURE OF THE ATMOSPHERE

Table 2.1: Fractional concentrations by volume of the major gaseous constituents of the
Earths atmosphere up to an altitude of 105km, with respect to dry air. (Source: Wallace
and Hobbs, 2006)
Constituent Molecular Fractional
weight concentration
by volume
Nitrogen (N2 ) 28.013 78.08%
Oxygen (O2 ) 32.000 20.95%
Argon (Ar) 39.95 0.93%
Water vapor (H2 O) 18.02 0-5%
Carbon dioxide (CO2 ) 44.01 380ppm
Neon (Ne) 20.18 18ppm
Helium (He) 4.00 5 ppm
Methane (CH4 ) 16.04 1.75 ppm
Krypton (Kr) 83.80 1 ppm
Hydrogen (H2 ) 2.02 0.5 ppm
Nitrous oxide (N2 O) 56.03 0.3 ppm
Ozone (O3 ) 48.00 0-0.1 ppm

To convert ppm to percentage 1ppm is 1016 . Multiplying by 100, converts the


previous fraction into percentage. Thus dividing the ppm value by 104 gives the percentage
value. For example, 380ppm is approximately 0.04% (i.e divided 380ppm by 104 ).

2.2 Vertical divisions of the atmosphere


The four main divisions of the standard atmosphere considered here are the troposphere,
stratosphere, mesosphere and ionosphere.

1. Troposphere
The lowest layer above ground to almost 10km. This layer is known as turning or
changing sphere as most of weather occurs here. In general, temperature decreases
with height. The rate of decrease of temperature with height is called Temperature
Lapse Rate. It is approximately 6.5C/km. The troposphere contains about 80% of
all water vapour hence clouds, precipitation. It is characterized by strong vertical
mixing. That is, thunderstorms, clear air turbulence, etc. Temperature may increase
temporarily with height in troposphere. This is a situation is known as Temperature
Inversion. The Tropopause: is the top of the troposphere. Its altitude varies over
the earth and is not continuous with 18km in tropics and about 8km in the high
latitudes. On average the atmosphere in the troposphere is unstable.
2.2. VERTICAL DIVISIONS OF THE ATMOSPHERE 15

Figure 2.1: Vertical profile of the atmosphere (source:http://www.meto.umd.edu/


owen/CHPI/IMAGES/profile.html)
16 CHAPTER 2. COMPOSITION AND STRUCTURE OF THE ATMOSPHERE

2. Stratosphere: Extends from tropospause to around 50km. Temperature increases


with height. The increasing temperature in the stratosphere is caused by the layer of
ozone near an altitude of 25 km. The ozone molecules absorb high-energy UV rays
from the sun which warm the atmosphere at that level. Many jet aircraft fly in this
layer because it is very stable.
Isothermal layer - The lower stratosphere is characterized by constant temperature
with height up to 20km.
Inversion layer :- The Upper Stratosphere is characterized by increasing temperature
change with height. The temperatures therefore in the upper stratosphere are just
as high as on the ground. This is transferred downward by subsidence and radiation.
Due to the heat absorbed in the Ozonosphere, and upper stratosphere acts as a heat
source. There can be no convection in the stratosphere.
The stratopause is around an altitude of about 50km where there is no increase in
temperature.

3. Mesosphere- Temperature decreases with height from 50km to about 80 km to


around -95o c. In this layer air continues to be homogenous (i.e. relatively mixed
together) except for variable amounts of water vapour and ozone. Above this level in
the Mesopause all levels below this level is at times referred to as Homosphere. This
includes tropopause, stratosphere and the Mesosphere. The mesosphere is also the
layer in which a lot of meteors burn up while entering the Earths atmosphere.

4. Thermosphere:- Temperature increases with height to between, mesopause and 400


km and 500 km during sun-activities. The gases break into atoms by action of uv
and x radiation from the sun. This ionization is very important in that the electrons
and protons can stay so for long periods. The ionosphere extends until it merges
with inter-planetary gases. The thermosphere is the layer of the atmosphere which
is first exposed to the Suns radiation and so is heated by the sun. The air is so thin
that a small increase in energy can cause a large increase in temperature.
Ionosphere- The ionosphere is the region of the atmosphere that is filled with
charged particles. It extends from 80 km and above, UV radiation splits oxygen
and nitrogen molecules decomposes them into free atoms form, forming layer into
infinity. Its density 8 x 104 gm3 at 100 km and 1x107 gm3 at 220 km compared
with MSL 1.2x103 gm3 . Different regions of the ionosphere make long distance radio
communication possible by reflecting of radio waves back to earth.

2.3 Some Features


Mention must be made of some properties and phenomena in the atmosphere.
Water Vapour
2.3. SOME FEATURES 17

The atmosphere is never completely free of Water Vapour but in varying concentrations
3% of mass of air over hot tropical coastal areas to negligible amount over deserts. Is it
not remarkable that such small quantities of water can cause such variations in weather?
Water enters the atmosphere through evaporation and evapotranspiration and returns as
dew, rain, snow, hail etc. The amount of water vapour decreases with height.
Carbon dioxide:- Enters the atmosphere by human/animal breathing, decay and
burning of carbon materials and volcanic activities. It is removed by plant life. Ninety-
nine percent is dissolved in oceans and depend on temperature. Concentration of CO2 is
variable. That is in cities.
Ozone Ozone is made of three oxygen atoms joining together to form a single molecule
O3 . Oxygen is more stable in its diatomic form. A single oxygen atom is unstable. O3
is less stable than O2 , because it wants to return to the diatomic state by giving up an
oxygen atom. About 90% of the ozone in the Earths atmosphere lies in the stratosphere.
Thus, occurs in minute amounts in the lower atmosphere.
Ozone can be found in both the stratosphere and troposphere. Where ozone is found
in the atmosphere determines whether it is good or bad. The ground level or bad ozone
(i.e. in the troposphere) is an air pollutant that damages human health, vegetation, causes
irritation to lungs and eyes and many other things. It is an important component of urban
smog. The good ozone found in the stratosphere protects life on Earth from the harmful
effects of the Suns ultraviolet rays. Thus, humans have a reason to be concerned about the
thinning of the ozone layer in the stratosphere and the buildup of ozone in the troposphere.
Production of ozone
When O2 molecules are split into atoms which recombine with other O2 molecules ,
they form O3 . Atomic oxygen is produced in the very upper atmosphere (much above the
stratosphere), but little ozone forms there because of low air density at those altitudes.
Relatively nearer the earths surface (but still high up in the atmosphere), the chances of
oxygen atoms colliding with oxygen molecules are greater, so the highest ozone values are
found there. Upon absorbing ultraviolet radiation, ozone splits into its constituent parts
(O + O2 ), which can then recombine to form another ozone molecule. Ozonosphere is
the region where ozone is found in the stratosphere. This layer is between 20km - 50km.
Ozone is more concentrated in this layer than anywhere else. Ozone (and oxygen) in the
stratosphere absorb ultraviolet radiation from the sun which can cause skin cancer. Thus
ozone acts as a shield that prevents this radiation from passing to the Earths surface.
Destruction of ozone
Ozone depletion is the steady decline in the amount of ozone in the earths atmosphere
(mainly in the stratosphere). One of the causes of the decline in the ozone amount is the
release of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) on the earth. CFCs are used in refrigerations and air
conditioning, in the manufacture of plastic foams, and as solvents in the electronic industry.
The ozone molecules in the stratosphere continuously break apart into its oxygen atoms
and reforms as ozone molecules, so a particular ozone molecule does not last very long. The
shield changes constantly, but the atmospheric chemical processes maintain a dynamic
18 CHAPTER 2. COMPOSITION AND STRUCTURE OF THE ATMOSPHERE

equilibrium that keeps the overall amount of ozone constant - that is, if humans did not
contribute to the chemical processes. There is evidence that ozone is destroyed in the
stratosphere and that some human-released chemicals such as CFCs are speeding up the
breakdown of ozone in the atmosphere. The current effort towards the global elimination
of ozone-depleting chemicals from the atmosphere is the first time that we have tackled a
global environmental issue on a global scale.
CFCs do not easily react with other molecules in the lower atmosphere. They are
therefore able to travel to the stratosphere intact, where they break down and release free
atoms of chlorine (CI). First, a chlorine atom reacts with an ozone molecule to produce
O2 and chlorine monoxide (CIO). Next, an oxygen atom (O) reacts with CIO, creating
another O2 molecule while freeing the chlorine atom (CI). This CI atom has been formed
in addition to the original CI atom that first reacted with the ozone molecule. The fact
that the CI atoms are not consumed in these processes makes them able to repeatedly
break down ozone molecules.
Greenhouse Effect The greenhouse effect is a natural phenomenon that helps reg-
ulate the Earths temperature. Water vapour and greenhouse gases (e.g., carbon dioxide,
methane, nitrous oxide, chlorofluorocarbons) among others, act like an insulating blanket,
trapping outgoing terrestrial radiation that would otherwise escape into space. Without
this natural greenhouse effect, temperatures would be lower than they are now, and
life as we know it today would not be possible. However, human activities, primarily the
burning of fossil fuels and clearing of forests, have enhanced the natural greenhouse effect,
causing the Earths average temperature to rise
The greenhouse effect (in the atmosphere) refers to the fact that, incoming solar radia-
tion (short wave radiation) passes through the atmosphere quite freely, whereas terrestrial
radiation (long wave radiation) emitted upward from the Earths surface is absorbed and
reemitted in its passage through the atmosphere. Thus, the presence of such greenhouse
gases in a planetary atmosphere tends to warm the surface of the planet.
A Greenhouse (a term from agriculture) is made primarily of glass, which is transparent
to incoming shortwave radiation but opaque to outgoing longwave radiation. The glass
therefore allows in more radiation than is allowed to escape, causing the temperature
inside the structure to be warmer than outside.
Chapter 3

Meteorological Observations

The meteorological observation station model is a method for representing information


collected by an observation station on a weather map using symbols and numbers (see
figure 3.1 below).
Some meteorological parameters or elements are measured with instruments while oth-
ers such as clouds and some types of weather (e.g. fog or mist and haze) are observed
using visual techniques. A few of the instruments used include wind vane (for wind speed),
cup anemometer (for wind direction) and continuous recording instruments such as baro-
graph (for pressure), hygrograph (for humidity) and thermograph (for temperature). The
following instruments are also used; thermometers (for temperature), hygrometers (for
humidity), barometers (for pressure). General requirements of the instruments include ac-
curacy, reliability, ease of reading and use, robustness, low cost and continuous operation
(in the marine environment).

3.1 Recording and Reporting weather observations

3.2 Observations aboard a ship


Ships undertaking meteorological observations measure the following elements; (a) Air
temperature, (b) Atmospheric pressure, tendency and characteristic, (c) Humidity, (d)
Wind speed and direction, (e) Cloud amount, type and height (f) Weather - present and
past, (g) Precipitation, (h) Visibility, (i) Sea temperature, (j) Ocean waves, height, period
and direction, (k) Ice conditions

3.3 Barometry
Barometry is the measurement of pressure. Pressure is simply the force exerted on a unit
area of a given surface. Pressure acts in all directions. Differences in pressure in the

19
20 CHAPTER 3. METEOROLOGICAL OBSERVATIONS

atmosphere lead to air flow from high to low pressures. Atmospheric pressure is measured
in millibars (mb) but of late in hectopascals (hPa) (note that 1mb = 1hPa).
1 bar = 1000 millibars = 100 Newton/m2 . The length of mercury in the column depends
on temperature and gravity of the place. Hence meteorologist determine pressure at some
agreed standard conditions of 0o C and 9.80665m/sec2 1013.25 mb.
The barometer is an instrument used to measure atmospheric pressure [Greek words,
baros (weight) and metron (measure)]. Two types of barometers are generally in use;
mercury (Hg) and aneroid. The mercury barometers include Fortins and Kew-pattern.
With Fortins there is the need to adjust to a pointer which is at zero point of scale. The
Kew-pattern does not have to be adjusted to any fixed point. Aneroid is derived from the
Greek a nexus (not wet) and the Suffix oid (like). It therefore has no fluid, in contrast
to a mercury barometer which uses the liquid, mercury.
Generally when barometers are read, corrections have to be made of any reading for (i)
Index, (ii) Temperature and (iii) Gravity errors.

3.3.1 The first Mercury Barometer


Toricelli (in 1643) took a glass tube about 80 cm long and closed at one end. He filled it
with Hg and inverted the open end under the surface of Hg in a bowl. He found that the
Hg level in the tube fell to and remained at about 0.76m (or 760 mm) above the outside
Hg surface. His explanation for this was the atmosphere must be exerting pressure on
the free Hg surface. This pressure must be equal to the pressure produced by the weight
of the Hg column. Atmospheric pressure measurements stated as a certain length of Hg
must however be corrected so that it refers to standard conditions of temperature and
acceleration due to gravity. The standard conditions are as follows; Temp. = 0o C; Density
of Hg = 13.5951g/cm 3, g = 980.665 cm/s2 where g is the acceleration due to gravity.
As stated earlier, two types of Hg barometers are used at meteorological stations.
These are the Fortin and the fixed cistern (or Kew-pattern) barometers. The length to be
measured is the distance between the top of the Hg column and the upper surface of Hg
in the Cistern. However, a difficulty arises due to the fact that any change in the length
of the Hg column leads to a change in the level of the mercury in the Cistern.
In the Fortin barometer the level of the Hg in the Cistern can be adjusted to bring
it into contact with a fixed ivory pointer. The top of this pointer is at the zero of the
barometer scale. The first operation in reading a Fortin barometer is therefore to adjust
the level of the Hg in the Cistern until it corresponds to this point.
The fixed Cistern barometer (or Kew-pattern barometer). Here it is not necessary to
adjust the level of the Hg in the Cistern. The scale engraved on the barometer is contracted
to allow for changes in the Hg level.
Reading the Hg barometer: (i) Read the height of the Hg meniscus on the Scale to
the nearest tenth of a millibar, (ii) Apply corrections to allow for (a) Index error (b)
temperature of the instrument, and (c) gravity (due to latitude variation and altitude
3.3. BAROMETRY 21

variation), (iii) Apply a reduction to allow for height above mean sea level (MSL). This
reduction depends on the temperature and pressure of the outside air.
The 3 corrections and the reduction to MSL are combined in tables prepared specially
for each instrument and each station. That is, all what is needed for carrying out operations
(ii) and (iii) is included in the correction card which usually hangs alongside the barometer.
The corrections are made to the indicated reading of the scale in order to obtain a value
both accurate and comparable with those at other stations. The corrections are;

1. Correction for index error: There are usually slight imperfections of the instrument,
example in the graduations. The imperfections (e.g. readings of individual barom-
eters being different) may also be due to the capillarity of mercury. (A certificate
is provided with each instrument setting out the necessary corrections at different
points on the scale).
Other issues that could introduce error include the observation process.

The barometer should always be upright


Deflective Vacuum: Residual gas in vacuum above the Hg column. In addition,
refraction or bending of light rays occur as they pass through glass.
Effect of wind: Can often cause dynamical changes of pressure in the room
where the instrument is placed. (these fluctuations are superimposed on the
static pressure).
Fouling of Hg: In course of time the Hg in the tube or Cistern may become
fouled, causing the meniscus to flatten making the readings difficult and inac-
curate.
Pumping: Due to a constant change in height above MSL of a barometer on
a vessel in a seaway, there will tend to be a continual change of reading. This
movement of the Hg will make it difficult to get an accurate reading. Gusty
wind can also cause pumping.

2. Correction for temperature of the instrument: The height of the column of the Hg at
any pressure depends partly on its density which is governed by temperature. Ex-
pansion or contraction of materials comprising the instrument also affect the reading.
A thermometer is therefore incorporated and with the aid of tables the reading is
corrected to a temperature of 0o C. The instruments are almost completely compen-
sated for the temperature variations experienced in normal use, but if an instrument
is used under extreme conditions the necessary corrections may be obtained from the
test certificate.
When barometer is initially calibrated, the components (Hg, scales, glass tube, cistern
etc) are at 0o C. Any departure from this will cause changes in dimensions of the
components. The attached thermometer temperature is usually not identical with the
22 CHAPTER 3. METEOROLOGICAL OBSERVATIONS

mean temperature of the components. This error can be minimized by a favourable


exposure. - An electric fan can reduce temperature gradients in a room but it may
cause local pressure variations; (it should be switched off before taking a reading).

3. Correction for the local value of gravity: Allowance is made for the variation of
gravity with latitude by correcting to a standard value 980.665 cm/s2. A correction
or variation of gravity with height is also required but is negligible for heights up to
200 metres above mean sea level.
Reading of mercurial barometer at a given pressure and temperature depends on g
which also varies with latitude and altitude. Calibrations are to yield true pressure
readings at the standard g of 9.80665m/s2 . Reading at any other value must be cor-
rected. For any particular barometer used in a fixed position these corrections may be
conveniently combined in a single correction, which corresponds to the temperature
of the attached thermometer.

4. Reduction to Standard Level: When the previous corrections have been applied, the
reading gives the pressure at the level of the barometer Cistern. A further adjustment
is necessary to obtain the pressure at any other height, (for e.g. at aerodrome level
or sea level) and a correction table is available for this purpose. [To obtain corrected
pressure at mean sea level the four corrections are reduced to a single operation by
means of a table which is specially prepared for each instrument in its given situation.]

3.3.2 Barometers on board ship (Marine mercurial barometers)


Instead of a correction table, a device known as the Gold Slide is usually attached to the
instrument; corrections for altitude, latitude and temperature are made by a simple setting
of the slide. The conditions of observing at sea make the mercury barometer unreliable
and difficult to use.

3.3.3 Aneroid Barometers


An aneroid barometer consists of a flexible sealed circular metallic chamber (aneroid cap-
sule). It is completely or partly evacuated and the distance between the centres of its
opposite walls changes with atmospheric pressure. For instance, if the atmospheric pres-
sure increases, it forces the opposing walls together. A strong spring system prevents the
chamber from collapsing due to the external pressure. At any given pressure there will be
an equilibrium position, in which the force due to the spring balances that of the external
pressure. One end of the cell is fixed, while the other is coupled to a pointer which moves
over a dial marked with pressure values. The coupling magnifies the movement of the
pointer. It is very convenient to use at sea or in the field as it is compact and portable (an
advantage over Hg barometer) making it easily transportable. An aneroid barometer must
be calibrated against a mercury barometer. The aneroid barometer is not as reliable as the
3.3. BAROMETRY 23

mercurial barometer, since its index error is liable to change slowly; it indicates accurately
changes of pressure, but the absolute value is liable to be wrong. The error may be found
accurately enough (by comparison with mercurial barometer) but may not stay constant.
For small corrections, a small screw at the back of the aneroid can be used to adjust the
pointer of the aneroid to the same reading as the mercurial barometer. Corrections larger
than 5 mb should be made by removing the glass face (see figure 3.3), lifting the pointer
off the pivot (to which it is only attached by friction), and replacing in approximately the
correct position.
In addition to the index error (which can be found by comparison with a corrected
mercurial barometer reading), the aneroid barometer reading should be corrected for height
above sea level before entering in a log or using it in a weather report. If, however, the
aneroid is kept in one place in the ship, the simplest procedure is to adjust it so that it
reads correctly for sea level when at mean draft (i.e. agrees with a corrected mercurial
barometer reading in the same locality); there is then no need to bother about corrections,
provided the ships draft does not change more than, say, six feet either side of the mean.
Sources of error here include (i) incomplete compensation for temperature. A weakening
of the spring may occur with increasing temperature. This will result in too high a pressure
being indicated by the instrument. (ii) Elasticity errors also occur. When an aneroid
barometer is subjected to a large and rapid change of temperature the instrument will not
immediately indicate the true pressure. This lag known as hysteresis, and a considerable
time elapse before this difference becomes negligible. (iii) Slow changes in the metal of the
aneroid chamber also occur. These are known as Secular changes and can only be allowed
for by comparisons at intervals with a standard barometer.

3.3.4 Precision Aneroid Barometer (PAB)


The difficulty in ships to find a suitable and convenient position to place the mercurial
barometer has led to the use of an expensive type of aneroid known as the precision
aneroid barometer (see figure 3.4) . In the PAB the force required to operate the
indicating mechanism is provided by the observer, and thus the capsule is allowed to
respond freely to pressure changes. The movements of the capsule are measured with a
micrometer screw and the pressure is shown in millibars on a digital counter.
The PAB performs as satisfactorily as the mercurial barometer, occupies a small amount
of space (an advantage) and records the atmospheric pressure on a five-figure drum counter
to a tenth of a millibar. It is more complicated in design than the ordinary aneroid. For
instance, it contains three capsules or vacuum chambers instead of one, and they do not
have to provide the force needed to move the pointer as is the case with the ordinary
aneroid.
The procedure for taking observations (reproduced from E.K. Lampteys notes) from
the PAB involves:
1. switching on the instrument
24 CHAPTER 3. METEOROLOGICAL OBSERVATIONS

2. pressing the black switch button continuously

3. turning the knurled knob so that the thread of light in the indicator

(a) is continuous with the pressure increasing until thread just breaks
(b) is broken with the pressure decreasing until thread just becomes continuous

4. reversing and repeating step(c) ensuring that thread of light does not overshoot and
stopping when thread of light just breaks

5. releasing the black switch button and reading off pressure value from the readout

6. inserting a decimal point to the readings taken and where the tenths reading is equally
between two figures, taking the odd number

7. the corrections for height and index error

3.3.5 Barographs
It is a self-recording barometer (see figure 3.5), which makes a continuous record of pressure
measurements over a period of time. It usually employs an aneroid mechanism.
A number of aneroid cells are fixed together, so that there is more force to move
the pointer. By a suitable system of levers, the expansion or contraction of the cells is
magnified. This movement is transmitted to a pointer which moves in an arc over a paper
chart wrapped around the outside of a cylindrical drum. The drum is rotated once weekly
by a clockwork mechanism and so a continuous record of the atmospheric pressure at the
meteorological station is obtained.

The chart with its trace is known as a barogram. The barograph is used mainly
to indicate pressure changes, and is inferior to both the Hg and a good aneroid
barometer for measurements of pressure itself.

Barometric tendency and characteristic


Full synoptic reports include the amount and type of change in pressure over the 3
hours (24 hours in the tropics) preceding the time of observation. The barogram is
used in choosing the type of change (the characteristic) and may be used to determine
the amount of change (the tendency).

3.3.6 Station Level Pressure (QFE)


3.3.7 Reduction of pressure to standard levels
QFE Station level Pressure (as read at station level) and to make comparisons to reduce
to same level.
3.4. TEMPERATURE 25

Approximate Pressure Temperature Temperature


altitude (km) (mb) (o C) Lapse rate C/Km
0 1013.25 15.0 6.5
11 226.32 -56.5 0.0
20 45.75 -56.5 0.0
32 8.68 -44.5 -1.0

Table 3.1: Lapse rate, temperature, pressure associated with certain altitudes

MSL - In most countries, it is reduced to mean sea level and this is known as MSL
Pressure. These are hypothetical in most cases since most stations are land stations and
are above sea level.
To Reduce To Sea Level
First determine the QFE and add the weight column of air which will occupy a unit
area between station and the (MSL). Depends on temperature of column. Syn (together);
opsis (seeing) charts are plotted with pressures taken simultaneously and reduced to MSL.
In mountainous areas above (1 km), 850mb and 700mb charts are used instead of MSL.
Altimeter
The altimeter (see below) is essentially an aneroid with scale reading altitude instead
of pressure.
Variations in temperature with height may introduce difficulties in altimetry: It is
therefore necessary to assume some hypothetical atmosphere in which certain changes
occur in some elements.
Altimeter Settings
If set to QFE reach O metres (Zero Settings) on landing; Hence, giving height above
station level of aircraft. But this is meaningless if aircraft is away from station or even out
of country.
QNH Settings
This is used to offset the difficulty above.
a) Calculate the aerodrome pressure (QFE) b) Use ICAO standard atmosphere to
determine Zp corresponding to QFE. c) Subtract the elevation of the aerodrome (H) from
Zp that is (Zp -H) d) Use the ICAO standard atmosphere to determine QNH corresponding
to the altitude (ZP-H)
Examples Zp > H, Zp < H , Zp < O.

3.4 Temperature
Thermometry is the measurement of temperature. Of all meteorological elements, temper-
ature affects our daily lives more than any. We shall see how this temperature controls
largely wind and water vapour and hence formation of clouds.
26 CHAPTER 3. METEOROLOGICAL OBSERVATIONS

Temperature is expressed by means of 3 scales: The fahrenheit (F), celsius (C) and
absolute (or Angstrom) scales. Conversion can be made from one form to the other. The
formulae for the conversion from celsius to fahrenheit and vice versa can be obtained from
the formula

C 0 F 32
= (3.1)
100 180
where the 100 is the number of divisions on the celsius scale and 180 is the number
of divisions on the fahrenheit scale. C is the temperature in degrees celsius and F is the
temperature in degrees fahrenheit.
Thus
5
C = (F 32) (3.2)
9
and

5
F = C + 32 (3.3)
9
The relationship between celsius and Kelvin (or Angstrom or absolute) is

K = 273 + C (3.4)

Therefore 32o F = Oo C = 273o K; 100o C = 373o K = 212o F

3.4.1 Thermometry
Thermometry is the measurement of temperature. Temperature is measured with a ther-
mometer. There are different types. The following are the principles of those commonly
used in meteorology:-

1. Liquid-in-glass type- Differential expansion of liquid with respect to its glass container
is measured. The change in volume is marked by charge in vertical column of the
liquid in the container. The type of liquid depends upon the range of temperature
being measured. Mercury-in glass/alcohol.

2. Mercury-in-Steel - Expansion of mercury alters shape of metal coil which either un-
rolls or rolls up more tightly. The coil and bulb are connected by 100 ft of thin steel
capillary tube enabling the reading at a considerable distance away.

3. Bi-metallic Strip: Two at times different metals are welded together so that their
difference in expansion is used as a mark of measurement.

4. Electrical Resistance: Depending upon the variation of electric resistance of metal


wire as the temperature changed.
3.5. MOIST AIR 27

5. Thermocouple: Two metals in a closed electrical circuit, the two joints being at
different temperatures and an electromotive force (EMF) set up in the circuit is
measured. This force varies with the temperature difference so that, if one joint is kept
at standard temperature, then varying temperature of the other can be calculated.

6. Autographic Types: A continuous record of temperature can be made by making


the temperature-sensitive part of the instrument operate a pen-arm on a paper chart
wrapped around a slowly rotating drum. Such an instrument is called a thermo-
graph. Other types of autographic instruments are the barograph, anemographs,
hygrographs and rainfall recorders.

7. Thermistors: Some chemical substances which change their electrical resistance markedly
with temperature, the resistance decreasing with rising temperature. They are small
and robust and therefore used in radiosonde. As temperature varies, the resistance
of the electrical circuit varies thereby varying radio signals transmitted to a receiver.
The changes are converted into temperature at various levels.

3.5 Moist Air


Instruments used to measure humidity or water vapour content are called hygrometers.
The change in dimensions of some organic substances is utilized in some hygrometers. The
length of the human hair changes as the relative humidity changes. A lever system could
be used to magnify these changes and used to operate a pointer. This is the principle of
the hair hygrometer.
The hair hygrograph makes use of a moisture sensitive substance such as a defatted
human hair to activate a moveable pen (in place of a pointer) which rests on a rotating
disc or cylinder, which gives a continuous read out in graph form.
A simple but accurate method to measure humidity is to use a psychrometer. The
psychrometer consists of two thermometers mounted side by side, one of which measures
the air temperature and the other the wet-bulb temperature. A psychrometer is sometimes
called a wet and dry bulb hygrometer.
The frequently used hygrometers in use are the wet and dry bulb type. The types in
common use are

1. The aspirator type, where air is drawn across a wet bulb thermometer by means of a
hand operated rubber bulb, or alternatively by a battery operated fan.

2. The sling psychrometer, a wet and dry bulb thermometer attached to a short chain
and handle. The reading is obtained by whirling the instrument through the air.

3. The simple wet and dry bulb thermometer which comprises two identical thermome-
ters set side by side. The bulb of one thermometer is enclosed in a small muslin
28 CHAPTER 3. METEOROLOGICAL OBSERVATIONS

(cotton cloth) which is kept wet by means of a wick (a few strands of thick cotton)
dipping into a small vessel of distilled water.

Figure 3.1: Meteorological observation station model (source:http://visual.merriam-


webster.com/earth/meteorology/station-model.php)
3.5. MOIST AIR 29

Figure 3.2: How the barometer works


30 CHAPTER 3. METEOROLOGICAL OBSERVATIONS

Figure 3.3: Aneroid Barometer (source:http://www.bom.gov.au/info/ftweather/page 15.shtml)

Figure 3.4: Precision Aneroid Barometer (PAB)


3.5. MOIST AIR 31

Figure 3.5: A Barograph

Figure 3.6: Thermometers showing the Kelvin, Celsius and Fahrenheit scales
(source:http://www.stuffintheair.com/thermometerpictures.html)
32 CHAPTER 3. METEOROLOGICAL OBSERVATIONS

3.6 Miscellaneous
The material in this section is from Mr. E.K. Lampteys hand out. It has been reproduced
here for convenience.
When observing and recording meteorological conditions, it is of the utmost importance
to proceed in a very careful and meticulous manner. An inaccurate observation can mislead
the forecaster and result in an inaccurate forecast. On the other hand, a reliable observation
can hold the key to an obscure or complex meteorological condition. Refer to the National
Weather Service Observing Handbook No. 1 for comprehensive definitions of the observed
elements and coding instructions. Some hints to remember.

Observing Time and Order


Except for pressure, try to observe all the elements just before, or as close as possible to
the reporting hour. Ideally, atmospheric pressure should be read exactly on the reporting
hour, or a few moments before. Wave observations may require a little longer to complete,
and should be started before the other elements. In darkness, instrumental observations
requiring the use of light should be made after non-instrumental ones, so as not to impair
eye function.

Wind Direction and Speed


Visual estimates are based on the appearance of the sea surface, using the Beaufort scale.
When there is an increasing or decreasing wind, there will be a lag period for the sea state
to change. Heavy rain will cause a smoothing, or damping down, of the sea surface. When
in shallow water or close inshore, Beaufort sea state criteria are less reliable because of the
effects of land and tidal currents. When the surface of the sea is invisible on a dark night,
estimate wind speed by noting wind effects on sound, smoke, and ship-board objects such
as flags.

Cloud Amount, Type and Height


The most reliable observations of clouds are made by keeping as close and continuous a
watch as possible on their development. There is a gradual transition between different
cloud types. Avoid making only a brief examination of the sky at the observation hour.

Visibility
Because of the absence of suitable objects, it is generally not possible to make visibility
observations from ships as accurately as at land stations. Make use of targets on the radar
screen. On long ships, when visibility is low, objects of known distances on board should
be used. In coastal areas, the appearance of landmarks can be used as a guide. In the
3.6. MISCELLANEOUS 33

absence of other objects, use the appearance of the horizon, or mentally sub-divide the
known distance to the horizon. At night the appearance of navigation lights gives a useful
indication of the visibility.

Ocean Waves, Period, Direction, and Height


The accepted standard is to use the average values of the better formed waves to compute
wave period and height. Sea waves are characterized by a size irregularity, unlike the
consistency and uniformity of swell waves. Avoid the temptation to split the smaller
and larger waves of a given sea into different wave systems of sea and swell. The higher
components of a sea can resemble swell by their longer crests and periods. Sea and swell
do, however, occasionally come from the same direction. When this happens, the period
of the swell will be several seconds longer than that of the sea.

Ice Conditions
There are three forms of ice encountered by ships at sea: 1) sea ice, from the freezing of the
sea surface; 2) river ice, in harbors and estuaries; and 3) land ice, or icebergs. The extent
of sea ice can vary greatly from year to year and has a great meteorological influence on
adjacent ocean areas and over large areas of the world. Icebergs and sea ice are dangerous
to shipping and impact navigation. Consequently, your ice reports are very important.

Atmospheric Pressure, Tendency Characteristic and Amount of Change


The precision aneroid barometer and barograph are the standard pressure reading instru-
ments for Voluntary Observing Ships (VOS). Barometers and barographs should be checked
as frequently as possible, normally at least every 3 months, by a PMO with a standard
pressure instrument. For ships in the U.S. VOS program, PMOs will adjust barometers to
read sea-level pressure, since this is the pressure reported in the weather message. If the
PMO is unable to adjust, he will post a correction to sea level which you must apply to
each reading before coding. Vessels in the British VOS program and a few other countries
have their barometers reading station pressure and adjust to sea-level before reporting. If
this is the case on board your vessel, please bring it to the attention of the PMO.
The barograph is used to record barometric tendencies and amount of change. Its a
good idea to keep the barograph at Universal Time Coordinates throughout your voyage.

Temperature; Air (Dry Bulb), Dew Point (Wet Bulb), And Sea Surface
The sling psychrometer is the standard instrument used by National Weather Service VOS
to measure air and dew point temperatures. If your vessel has an accurate fan ventilated
psychrometer, this can also be used. To obtain accurate readings, psychrometers must be
exposed in a stream of air, fresh from the sea, which has not been in contact with, or passed
34 CHAPTER 3. METEOROLOGICAL OBSERVATIONS

over the ship. The instrument must also be shielded from radiation, precipitation, and
spray. The psychrometer thermometers should be read right after whirling or ventilation
has stopped.
There are 2 widely used methods for measuring sea surface temperature: 1) using a
bucket to take a sample of sea surface water, and measuring its temperature and 2) reading
the temperature of the condenser intake water, either with a fluid thermometer, or with
an electrical remote indicating device. It is very important to use thermometers that are
accurate and properly calibrated. Bucket thermometers are available for your use from
National Weather Service PMOs.

More Observing Quirks


We have reports that some vessels take their observations 30 to 45 minutes before the time
of observation (GG). This is further off the mark than we would like. Try to time your
observation so that it is completed just before being transmitted. If the report will be
transmitted at 1200 UTC, and it takes you 10 minutes to take and encode the message,
it will be best if you start observing at 1150 UTC. If you expect to be tied up with other
matters right at synoptic time, you should record and transmit as near as you can to the
synoptic hour.
Another question concerns whether or not to use the / for cloud base height (h), when
darkness completely obscures the clouds. The answer is yes - use the slash whenever the
height of base cloud is not known.
Some vessels get the sea water temperature from the engine room at times that are
different from synoptic reporting times, and use the last reading (sometimes a few hours
old) for TwTwTw. We recommend that you get a fresh sea water temperature for each
observation, either from the engine room, or by using a sea water bucket thermometer,
which can be lowered into the water by hand. These thermometers are available from the
PMOs. Filling the bucket with sea water from your moving vessel requires some skill -
although only a small amount of water is needed to take a reading. Remember to wait a
short period of time to allow the thermometer in the bucket to reach the water temperature.
When obtaining dry and wet bulb temperature readings (for TTT, and when computing
TdTdTd), is it better to use a sling psychrometer, or dry and wet bulb thermometers
mounted in a fixed place? There is no clear difference here - you can obtain good readings
using either method. The important thing is to be using thermometers of sufficient accuracy
and to make sure that the wicking is sufficiently moistened for each reading. Air must
be able to flow freely past the thermometers in a fixed mount system. Wicking should be
changed regularly, to avoid buildups of dirt and grime. Your PMO can provide replacement
thermometers and wicking, or a complete sling psychrometer system.
Finally, one observer describes a hesitancy to report low visibility (VV) with a relatively
fast ships average speed (Vs). I will refrain from commenting on what should be done if
your visibility is less than 50 yards and your forward speed is 20 knots, for obvious reasons.
3.6. MISCELLANEOUS 35

Officials of his shipping company may wish to offer some guidance in this regard!!.

Class of Observing Ship


Refer to table 3.2.
Selected Ships: Observe wind, weather, pressure, barometric tendency, temperature, cloud
and waves. They are supplied with a marine mercurial barometer fitted with a correction
slide or precision aneroid barometer MKII, a barograph, wet and dry bulb thermometers
in a modified marine screen, and a sea thermometer and bucket.
Supplementary Ships: Make the same observations with the exception of barometric ten-
dency, sea surface temperature and waves and are not therefore supplied with barograph,
sea thermometer and bucket.
Auxiliary Ships: Makes all the observations made by supplementary ship except that they
do not report cloud. They used their own instruments which have been previously checked
by a Port Met Officer to observe pressure and temperature. They only record and report
when in areas where shipping is normally sparse.

Table 3.2: VOLUNTARY OBSERVING SHIP

Element Selected Supplementary Auxiliary


Wind direction and speed X X X
Atmospheric pressure XI XI X
Barometric tendency XI O O
Air temperature XI XI X
Dewpoint temperature XI O O
Sea surface temperature XI O O
Sea waves and swells X R R
Horizontal visibility X X X
Present and Past Weather X X X
Cloud Amount X X X
Cloud Type X X O
Cloud Height X X O
Ships course and speed X X X
Sea ice and/or ice accretion X X X

X - observation taken

X - observation as appropriate
O - No observation made
I - Instrument supplied to vessel for observing purposes
R - May be requested to observe
36 CHAPTER 3. METEOROLOGICAL OBSERVATIONS

3.7 A typical land station: Tema Harbour Meteorological


Station
The Tema harbour meteorological station falls in the category of station called synoptic
station. Observations are done 24 hours a day. Note that 00, 06, 12 and 18 UTC are called
major synoptic hours while 03, 09, 15 and 21 UTC are known as minor synoptic hours.
The highest amount of dew recorded at the station is 0.085 mm.
The instruments are confined to an enclosure. The enclosure protects intruders from
tempering with the instruments.
The instruments in the enclosure are the evaporation pan, rain gauge, rain recorder,
earth or soil temperature, sunshine recorder, cup anemometer, wind vane. The
instruments found in the Stevens screen which is also placed in the enclosure are dry
bulb thermometer, wet bulb thermometer, maximum thermometer, minimum
thermometer, grass minimum thermometer, Piche evaporometer, hygrograph,
thermograph. The precision aneroid barometer and the barograph are placed in doors.
The Stevens screen is specially designed to ensure enough ventilation while at the same
time protecting the instruments from the direct impact of the suns radiation. The screen
has two windows. When the sun is in the south, the instruments in the screen are read by
opening the window which is to the north (or north side window) and vice versa.
The cup used together with the evaporation pan has a volume 0.5 mm. The evaporation
pan pan is refilled at 09 UTC daily. The agents of evaporation are high temperature, strong
wind and birds who come to drink from the evaporation pan.
The Piche evaporometer is placed on a filament which is changed routinely (09 UTC?)
The rain gauge system comprise a funnel, bottle, bucket and a measuring jar (with a
diameter of 127 mm).
The earth/soil thermometers are inserted 5 cm, 10 cm, 20 cm and 30 cm deep into the
ground.
The sunshine recorder card are of three types; the winter, summer and equinoctial
cards.
The cup anemometer uses the speedometer mechanism and is read over a thirty second
time interval during observation.
If the dry bulb and wet bulb thermometers have the same value, the relative humidity
will be 100%. If the dry bulb (TT) and wet bulb (Tw ) temperatures are observed to be
the same, the dew point temperature (Td ) will also have the same value as TT and Tw .

Reading the PAB


Press and hold the black knob which turns on the light

Turn the screw to either increase or decrease the pressure (i.e. until the light changes
position)
3.7. A TYPICAL LAND STATION: TEMA HARBOUR METEOROLOGICAL STATION37

If the light is up at the time you turn it on, turn the screw on the right side of the
PAB until the light moves down and then back up before you read the pressure from
the scale.

If the light is down when you turn the light on, turn the screw on the right side of
the PAB until the light goes up. Then take the pressure reading from the scale.
38 CHAPTER 3. METEOROLOGICAL OBSERVATIONS
Chapter 4

Atmospheric Thermodynamics

The topics include Gas laws, virtual temperature, First law of thermodynamics,, potential
temperature, moisture in the atmosphere
Thermodynamics is the branch of study which deals with heat in motion.
An ideal or perfect gas is one which the potential energy of interaction between molecules
is independent of their separation and hence is independent of gas volume. Thus, the inter-
nal energy of an ideal gas depends only on its temperature. To a very good approximation,
atmospheric gases at normal terrestrial temperatures and pressures are ideal. In short, an
ideal gas is that gas

1. whose molecules have no mutual attraction

2. whose molecules are mere mass points occupying no finite volume

4.1 Ideal Gas Laws


The ideal gas laws are associated with an ideal gas. Modifications to these, such as Van der
Waals equation, are necessary for real gases, but modifications are small for atmospheric
gases at normal environmental conditions.
Three variables have to be considered while dealing with gases. These are pressure,
temperature and volume. Thus, three relationships are possible between these quantities
as each, in turn, is kept constant. These are known as the Gas laws.

4.1.1 Boyles law


This is also called Boyle-Mariotte law or Mariotte law. This law gives a relation between
the pressure and volume of a perfect gas when its temperature is held constant.
The law states: At constant temperature, the pressure exerted by a given mass of perfect
gas varies inversely as its volume

39
40 CHAPTER 4. ATMOSPHERIC THERMODYNAMICS

1
P orP V = constantorP1 V1 = P2 V2 = P3 V3 = = constant (4.1)
V
where the suffixes 1,2 and 3 etc refer to the different states or sets of conditions of the gas.

4.1.2 Charles law


This law gives relation between volume and temperature of a perfect gas when its pressure
is kept constant.
The law states, at constant pressure, the volume of a given mass of a perfect gas varies
directly as its absolute temperature

V V1 V2 V3
V T or = constantor = = = constant (4.2)
T T1 T2 T3

4.1.3 Gay-Lussacs or Pressure law


This law gives relation between pressure and temperature of a perfect gas when its volume
is maintained constant.
The law states, at constant volume, the pressure exerted by a given mass of a perfect
gas varies directly as its absolute temperature.

P P1 P2 P3
P T or = constantor = = = = constant (4.3)
T T1 T2 T3

4.2 Daltons law


The total pressure of a mixture of gases is the sum of the pressures each component would
have if it alone occupied the volume of the mixture at its temperature. Daltons law is
strictly valid only for hypothetical ideal gases but is a good approximation for atmospheric
gases at normal terrestrial temperatures and pressures.

4.3 Van der Waals equation


The best known of the many laws that have been proposed to describe the thermodynamic
behavior of real gases and their departures from the ideal gas laws. It states
a
(p + )( b) = RT, (4.4)
2
where a and b are constants dependent upon the gas, p the pressure of the gas, its
specific volume (measured in units of the specific volume of the gas at normal temperature
and pressure), R the universal gas constant, and T the Kelvin temperature. Gasliquid
4.4. VIRTUAL TEMPERATURE 41

change characteristics and the properties of a substance in these two phases are predicted
with some success by Van der Waals equation, but not at all by the equation of state for
perfect gases. When p is small and is large, the correction terms are small and the two
equations become identical.

4.4 Virtual temperature


(Also called density temperature.) The virtual temperature Tv = T(1 + rv/ )/(1 + rv ),
where rv is the mixing ratio and  is the ratio of the gas constants of air and water vapor,
0.622. The virtual temperature allows the use of the dry-air equation of state for moist
air, except with T replaced by Tv . Hence the virtual temperature is the temperature that
dry dry air would have if its pressure and density were equal to those of a given sample of
moist air. For typical observed values of rv , the virtual temperature may be approximated
by Tv = (1 + 0.61 rv ) T. Some authors incorporate the density increment due to liquid
or solid water into virtual temperature, in which case the definition becomes Tv = T(1 +
rv / )/(1 + rv + rl ) T(1 + 0.61rv - rl ), where rl is the liquid or liquid plus solid water
mixing ratio.

4.5 Potential Temperature


The potential temperature of an air parcel is defined as the temperature that the parcel
of air would have if it were expanded or compressed adiabatically from its existing pressure
and temperature to a standard pressure po (generally taken as 1000 hPa).

4.6 First Law of Thermodynamics


This law may be stated in two slightly different forms:
1. This form establishes equivalence between mechanical work and the heat energy.
According to this law, a definite amount of mechanical work is needed to produce a
definite amount of heat and vice versa. If W is the amount of work, then the amount
of heat H that can be produced by it is given by

W = JH (4.5)
where J is the mechanical equivalent of heat (J=4.186 joules/cal )

2. The second statement of this law arises from the extension of the Law of Conservation
of Energy. It states In all transformations, the energy due to heat units supplied must
be balanced by the external work done plus the gain in internal energy due to rise in
temperature
42 CHAPTER 4. ATMOSPHERIC THERMODYNAMICS

4.7 Moisture in the Atmosphere


The moisture parameters include mixing ratio and specific humidity, saturation vapor
pressures, saturation mixing ratios, relative humidity; dew point and frost point, lifting
condensation level and wet-bulb temperature.

4.7.1 Water Vapour


Water vapour is supplied to the atmosphere by evaporation and sublimation at the earths
surface. Its concentration decreases fairly steadily with height from a mass ratio of about
1x102 near the ground to about 2x106 in the lower stratosphere (dry air). There are
some recent indications of an increase of concentration with increase in height between
about 20 and 35 km. Partial dissociation of water vapour by ultra violet radiation into
hydrogen atoms and hydroxyl molecules is effective above 60 km.
The meteorological importance of water vapour derives from the part it plays in forming
clouds and precipitation elements, in controlling the long wave radiation (LWR) balance
of the atmosphere, in determining atmospheric stability, and in affecting the heat balance
conditions of the earth-atmosphere system by the powerful absorption of heat in the course
of evaporation and sublimation from liquid water and ice, and by the eventual released of
the stored heat, or hidden heat, which is involved in the reverse processes.
The amount of water vapour held in the atmosphere is specified by various humidity
elements which include vapour pressure, humidity mixing ratio, relative humidity, vapour
concentration, dew point, frost point and wet-bulb temperature. Different types of hy-
grometer are commonly used to measure the humidity at different atmospheric levels.
Water vapour is by far the most strongly absorbing constituent of the atmosphere and
has a wide range of absorption bands over a range of wavelengths extending from the
near infrared upwards. A conspicuous feature of the absorption spectrum, of particular
importance at terrestrial radiation temperatures, is the region between about 5.5 and 7
microns in which water vapour is opaque.
Atmospheric Window - A term applied to that region of the absorption spectrum of
water vapour which extends from about 8.5 to 11 microns. Ground radiation in this range
of wavelengths is, in contrast to ground radiation of other wavelengths, little absorbed by
water vapour, and in the absence of clouds, escapes to space
In the atmosphere, the states of water are vapour (water vapour), liquid (water droplets)
and solid (ice crystals).
Draw a sketch here to illustrate evaporation, condensation, freezing, melting, sublima-
tion and deposition.

4.7.2 Humidity Elements


There are different measures of humidity. These include
4.7. MOISTURE IN THE ATMOSPHERE 43

1. Relative Humidity (RH) Is the percentage degree of saturation. That is,


e
x100 (4.6)
es

at the same temperature. Where e is the partial pressure and es is the saturation
vapor pressure.
RH is also defined as the ratio of the amount of water vapor in a given volume of
air to the amount that volume would hold if the air were saturated. It is usually
expressed in percent.

2. Specific Humidity

3. Absolute Humidity (or vapor density or vapor concentration) Is the mass of vapour
contained in unit volume. (g vap/cm3)

4. Dew Point Temperature Is the temperature to which moist air must be cooled in
order to just reach the condition of saturation with respect to a plane H20 surface.
Further cooling results in condensation on solid surfaces. Even slight cooling beyond
the dew-point will ensure condensation on dust particles in the air, forming fog or
cloud. Fog may form even in unsaturated air, and its presence should not be taken
as indicative that the temperature is at or below the dew-point.

5. Vapor Pressure

6. Humidity Mixing Ratio (r) The mass of vapour contained in unit mass of dry air (g
vapour/kg dry air).
Mixing ratio is the ratio of a mass of a variable atmospheric constituent to the mass
of dry air. If not specified the term refers to water vapor. That is, in a sample of
moist air, the mixing ratio (w) is the ratio of the mass of water vapor (MV ) to the
mass of dry air (Md ). It is usually expressed as grams of water vapor per kilograms
of dry air. (Saturation mixing ratio is the mixing ratio a sample of air would have if
saturated)

7. Frost-Point Is the temperature to which moist air must be cooled in order to just
reach the condition of saturation with respect to a plane ice surface. Further cooling
induces deposition of ice in the form of hoar frost on solid surface including other ice
surfaces.

8. Wet-bulb temperature Is measured with a wet-bulb thermometer, in conjuction with


the dry-bulb thermometer it forms the standard method of measuring humidity at
the earths surface. As heat is absorbed in the process of evaporation, the wet-
bulb becomes cooled below the air temperature unless the air is already saturated.
44 CHAPTER 4. ATMOSPHERIC THERMODYNAMICS

The wet-bulb temperature is the lowest temperature to which air may be cooled by
evaporation of water.
Water vapour can change directly into ice, and conversely ice evaporates directly into
vapour sublimation. Moreover, water droplets in suspension readily remain liquid
or super cooled at temperatures below 0o C. Consequently at such temperatures the
S.V.P with respect to super cooled water is considered in addition to that with
respect to ice. S.V.P. over ice is slightly less than S.V.P. over super cooled water at
the same temperature; hence if unsaturated air is cooled progressively below 0o C, the
frost-point is reached while the air is still unsaturated with respect to water.
S.V.P. increases rapidly with temperature so that warm air, when saturated holds
more warm vapour than cold air.
The amount of vapour present in a given mass of air can be varied only by means
of evaporation or condensation and (at a given pressure) does not depend on the
temperature unless this is reduced below the dew-point, when the excess vapour is
condensed. In contrast, the relative humidity varies widely with temperature. Tem-
perature and saturation vapor pressure and consequently inversely proportional to
relative humidity, although this may be partly offset by evaporation from the surface
or from vegetation; conversely a fall of temperature increases the R.H unless the air
is already saturated. The diurnal variation of temperature over land is accordingly
reflected in diurnal variation of R.H, the lowest values occurring at the warmest time
of the day and the highest at night when, if 100% is approached, fog can readily form
. Even in desert regions the relative humidity at the surface may reach 100% at night
due to intense radiative cooling, so giving heavy dew or even fog. The lowest values of
R.H occur in air subjected to prolonged heating such as might result from insolation
over dry land, from advection over a warm dry surface or from adiabatic subsidence;
the highest values occurring during prolonged evaporation from the surface as when
air is in contact with the sea or wet ground or as a result of cooling by radiation,
advection or adiabatic ascent. On account of the prevalence of convection, air in the
upper toposhpere is frequently near saturation. In the lower stratosphere extremely
low RHs are the rule; in temperature latitudes the average is about 2% and it rarely
exceeds 10%.

4.7.3 Condensation, Sublimation and Freezing


When the air temperature is reduced below the dew- point, water droplets condense on
minute ptles suspended in the air (which act as condensation nuclei). Without such
ptles the vapour pressure would surpass the saturation value without condensation, (ie
the vapour would become super saturated but in practice suitable nuclei are invariably
present in large numbers so that super saturation with respect to water is not likely to be
large. As the condensation nuclei are often hygroscopic, (i.e., having special affinity for
4.8. HEAT EXCHANGES 45

water), they may bring about condensation even before saturation is reached; this explains
the occurrence of mist or fog with R.H below 100%. The main origin of the nuclei is prob-
ably the combustion products of domestic, factory and other fires. Sea salt ptles probably
contribute about 1/10th of the nuclei involved in cloud droplet formation.
When the vapour is cooled below the frost-point, it may be that ice crystals are formed
on sublimation nuclei. Condensation takes place only after the vapour has become satu-
rated with respect to water and the first product is a super-cooled droplet; subsequently the
droplet may freeze spontaneously if it contains a solid nucleus which is active as a freezing
nucleus, presumably because its shape is similar to that of an ice crystal. The rarity, if
not complete absence of sublimation nuclei in natural conditions means that water vapor
on cooling readily becomes super saturated with respect to water. If on the other hand
ice crystals are already present, having perhaps fallen from higher levels, and if the vapour
pressure exceeds the saturation values with respect to ice, then direct sublimation takes on
to these ice crystals. When freezing of super cooled droplets take place spontaneously, the
larger droplets tend to freeze more readily than the smaller ones. Generally, the freezing
of droplets becomes increasingly probable as the temperature continues to fall.

4.8 Heat Exchanges


We shall return to the Troposphere since it is the factor of all the exchanges, weather etc.
that take place.

4.9 Heat Transfer Processes


Conduction: Heat passes from the warmer to colder body by molecular impacts. The
fast moving molecules at higher temperatures collide with and transfer their kinetic energy
to the slower molecules. Air is a poor conductor of heat.
Convection: This transfer involves mass movement of the medium (fluids or gas). Parts
of the medium that are heated move up and replace colder parts which move down. Con-
vection currents in the atmosphere do transport heat aloft, i.e. heat, latent heat in form
of water vapour.
Radiation: Heat transfer without the medium being affected. Electromagnetic radiation
originates from the sun to the earth.
Heat and Temperature: Temperature of substance is a manifestation of the amount of
heat energy contained in it.
Specific Heat Capacity (Q): Amount of heat required to raise 1 kg of a substance by
temperature of 1O C

Q = mc (4.7)
where is the rise in temp, m is mass and c is specific heat capacity.
46 CHAPTER 4. ATMOSPHERIC THERMODYNAMICS

Adiabatic Change
This is a process in which there is no exchange with environment. Change of volume
or pressure, temperature of a small parcel of air without flow of heat into or out of the
parcel.
3 reasons why adiabatic change is assumed: (i) Air is a poor conductor of heat (ii)
Mixing of parcel with surroundings is very slow. (iii) Radiative processes produce only
small change in the short term. Rate of adiabatic process is 10C/km for Unsaturated Air.
Although there is heat transfer, it is negligible for the above 3 reasons.
Insolation
All solar radiation do not reach the surface of the earth. Absorption by gases (ozone),
reflection by clouds and scattering by dust, etc. occur in the atmosphere. The depletion
also depends on path taken to reach the surface. These are determined by latitude, time
of year and time of day. The total radiation (direct, sky radiation) received on a unit area
of horizontal surface in unit time is known as Insolation.
Diurnal Variation of temperature
Diagram:
The diurnal variation of temperature depends on the (i) amount of insolation and (ii)
Intensity and duration. Absorption and scattering are almost constant but reflection from
clouds may vary.
Intensity of Terrestrial Radiation
Water vapour absorbs long wave radiation and reradiates back to earth. Hence moist
areas have small diurnal variation than dry areas. Clouds also absorb and reradiate long
wave thus keeping close diurnal variation than clear skies. CO2 acts similarly. The nature
of the surface is very important since water surface and land surface differ greatly.
Summary: No cloud; summer season; low latitudes, dry air, dry soil, no wind all favour
large diurnal difference, whilst the thick cloud; winter, high latitudes, moist air, wet soil,
water surfaces, etc favour small differences.

4.10 The Vertical Stability of the atmosphere


Cloud formation and precipitation are largely the result of vertical motion in the atmo-
sphere (sometimes these motions are visible). It is on a much smaller scale than horizontal
motion (its effect can be important when it is widespread or well developed). Varied
weather phenomena arise from vertical motion. Irregular local gusts and lulls (may occur
for a few seconds) Strong updrafts and downdrafts may continue for several minutes during
TS. On the other hand widespread but slower movements may be sustained for days at a
time, due to the effects of large scale Wx systems. These motions are related to the vertical
stability of the atmosphere.
4.10. THE VERTICAL STABILITY OF THE ATMOSPHERE 47

4.10.1 Adiabatic Processes in the Atmosphere


Adiabatic Processes: One which takes place without exchange of heat with the environment
(A change in the volume or pressure of a small parcel of a gas may occur adiabatically).
Many short-term atmospheric pressure changes are adiabatic or nearly adiabatic for 3
reasons:

1. Air is a poor conductor of heat.

2. Mixing of a parcel of air with its surroundings usually takes place relatively slowly.

3. Radiative processes produce only small changes during short-term periods.

A parcel of unsaturated air may expand adiabatically when it rises and enters regions
of lower pressure aloft. Adiabatic exp. Results in cooling (DALR rate 10o C/km assuming
the air remains unsaturated i.e no water vapour in the air condenses as the parcel as-
cends). A descending parcel warms at the same rate as a result of adiabatic compression.
DALR is used because adiabatic temperature changes that occur in unsaturated air are
very approximately equal to those in dry air (N.B. moist air must remain unsaturated for
DALR).
*Sometimes moist air may become saturated due to cooling. If parcel of saturated air
continues to rise and expand -use SALR. Adiabatic cooling of saturated air leads to the
condensation of some of the water vapour and cloud begins to form. Latent heat is released
and this partly counteracts the adiabatic cooling die to expansion. If the air is saturated
the lapse rate is therefore smaller than the DALR. The volume of the SALR depends
upon the press and temperature. Reason for dependence on temperature Air holds more
moisture at higher temperature. More latent heat is released and this reduces the rate
of cooling. Thus it is impossible to speak of single SALR. ELR Each day in any locality
the vertical distribution of temperature with height varies from these average conditions
(vertical divisions atmosphere based on temperature these temperature changes referred
to mean conditions in the atmosphere) Thus Meteorological Observers balloon, which carry
radiosonde equipment high into the atmosphere. In this way pressure, temperature and
humidity at the various levels in the atmosphere can be determined. A knowledge of
vertical distribution of temperature enables ELR to be determined at various levels. ELR
Rate of decrease of temperature with height

4.10.2 Static Stability


What happens to a parcel of air after it has been given an initial vertical displacement,
either upwards or downwards ? *If after an upward displacement, the parcel is found to be
warmer (and therefore less dense) than its surroundings, its buoyancy will make it move
farther from its original position; it will continue to move Upwards until its temperature
sometimes becomes equal to that of its surroundings. When after an initial displacement,
48 CHAPTER 4. ATMOSPHERIC THERMODYNAMICS

the parcel moves farther from its original level, then the surrounding atmosphere is said to
be statically unstable. An initial disturbance in such an atmosphere results in spontaneous
development of the disturbance. If after displacement, the parcel is found to be colder
(and therefore more dense) than its surroundings, its buoyancy will tend to return the
parcel to its original level and the surrounding atmosphere is said to be statically stable.
A disturbance in such an atmosphere must in the 1st instance be forced, since buoyancy
tends to oppose any vertical motion. Clearly there is an intermediate state where vertical
motion is neither encouraged nor opposed; the atmosphere is said to be neutrally stable.
Comparison: Ball-bearing in a watch-glass Glass concave upwards ball in at bottom and
any sideways displacement results in a return to the centre. If glass is convex upwards -
ball remains stationary when it is at the centre, but any sideways displacement results in
further movement away from the centre. In 1st state ball is in stable In 2nd state, unstable
Diagrams
(a) Stable (b) Unstable (c) Neutral

Vertical Motion of Unsaturated Air

Consider the surroundings of a rising parcel. If they are cooler than the parcel at all
levels (other than the original, where the 2 temperatures are the same) then it is unstable
because the parcel is always warmer, after its initial displacement. For this to be true ELR
> DALR (that is the surroundings are unstable for ascent or descent of dry air). *N.B.
The parcels lapse rate is a consequence of its ascent. If ELR < DALR the surroundings
are stable
When the parcel ascends so far that the cooling causes condensation of some of the
water vapour within it, than the cooling is partly offset by the release of latent heat. Thus
air rising adiabatically, with at the same time some of its water vapour condensing within
it, cools more slowly than dry air lapse rate SALR.
SALR has a small value at high temps but becomes nearly equal to the DALR below -
40o C. This is because at these low temperatures the maximum amount of water which can
be present in the air is very small so that, for a given fall in temperature, the amount of
water vapour which condenses (and hence the amount of latent heat liberated) is so small
that it hardly alters the cooling resulting from expansion. (N.B. The parcel will warm
at the same rate when it is compressed adiabatically by descent only as long as sufficient
liquid water or ice is present to evaporate and keep the air saturated).

Vertical Motion of Saturated Air

Consider the surroundings of parcel whose water vapour condenses on ascent


If ELR > SALR, the surroundings are unstable for ascent or descent of saturated air
If ELR < SALR, the surroundings are stable
4.10. THE VERTICAL STABILITY OF THE ATMOSPHERE 49

Note: Thus the stability of the environment depends on (1) its lapse rate (2) whether
the rising parcel is saturated or not.
Development of Instability and Stability (PROCESSES WHICH CAN CHANGE THE
ELR) ELR of atmosphere varies with space and time. The ELR of a layer in the atmosphere
increases when either the lower part is warmed or the upper part is cooled or both occur
together. (Warming of the lower part may be the result of contact with a warm, underlying
ground or of the replacement of the original air by now, warmer air brought in by the wind
and cooling of the upper part may be the result of heat loss by long-wave radiation is slow,
except when clouds are present). Conversely, ELR if a layer

4.10.3 Atmospheric Turbulence


Examination of an anemograph trace will reveal the rapid an d irregular fluctuations in both
speed and direction of the surface wind. These fluctuations indicate the flow is turbulent
with many eddies occurring in the region near earths surface.
The degree of turbulence depend on for e.g.. Wind Speed, the roughness of the surface,
ELR etc.
Types
1. Thermal turbulence 2. Mechanical turbulence

Thermal Turbulence
The results from the convection currents set up by surface heating (this heating may result
from insolation on the land. Sometimes it also occurs when relatively cool mass of air
passes over a warmer land or sea surface.
The Thermal turbulence sometimes leads to the development of clouds (explanation as
the temp. rises near the earths surface the ELR increases. Eventually, the air becomes
unstable and convection currents become part of the turbulent structure. In convection
clouds, especially in TS, latent heat is released at cloud heights and this energy sets up
updrafts and downdrafts, representing large eddy-type motions. These in turn give rise to
numerous smaller turbulent eddies of various sizes).
Thermal turbulence or convection does not always lead to the development of clouds.
In hot arid regions the humidity of the atmosphere may be too low for condensation to
occur. Turbulence may nevertheless be very great in these regions.

Mechanical Turbulence
This is also known as frictional turbulence and is wide-spread due to roughness of the
earths surface. Turbulence is accentuated by the flow of air over buildings, trees, hills etc.
and is also generated by wind shear.
The eddies produced by mechanical turbulence may rotate about axes in any direction.
They tend to develop more easily if the wind speed is high or if the ELR is great.
50 CHAPTER 4. ATMOSPHERIC THERMODYNAMICS

Mechanical turbulence tends to be lower over the open sea or relatively smooth ground.
Light winds or calm conditions and stable atmosphere are also conducive to reduced me-
chanical turbulence.
A severe form of turbulence may occur in clear air at high levels in the atmosphere
(this is known as CAT) hazard to aircraft in this region.

Temperature Inversions
Normally temperature decrease with height. But in certain layers, temperature increases
with height. The increase in temperature with height are called temperature inversions.
A surface inversion is an inversion occurring from the ground level upwards. An upper
inversion is an inversion occurring in a layer situated above the earths surface.
Diagram:
The following processes are important in the production of temperature inversions

1. Radiation

2. Turbulence

3. Subsidence

4. Frontal Development

Radiation Inversions A radiation inversion may produce a surface inversion if the


cooling of the earth by radiation at night continues long enough, the air near the earths
surface becomes cooler than the atmosphere above. A surface inversion then develops near
the ground. With calm or very light winds the cooling of the air extends upwards through
a comparatively small height. This is called shallow inversion.
The temperature at the surface may, however, be quite low and the shallow surface
inversion may be quite marked. (called strong inversion). On cloudless nights with little
wind, radiation inversions occur. Early morning fogs (radiation fogs) may then develop if
the air contains sufficient moisture.
In same situations, frosts may occur. In these cases, the air is less humid, and radiation
may occur more rapidly. Hence, lower surface temperatures develop, especially in inland
regions after a long cloudless winter night.
Radiation also occur from the tops of clouds at night. In this way, a radiation inversion
may develop in the atmosphere well above the earths surface.

Turbulence Inversions Turbulence of ten contributes to the development of inversions.


If continued long enough, a thorough mixing of the atmosphere takes place in the layers
where the turbulence exists. Thus, mechanical turbulence may cause the cold air at the
bottom of a surface inversion to be carried aloft. The cooling produced by radiation may
4.10. THE VERTICAL STABILITY OF THE ATMOSPHERE 51

therefore be spread through a thicker layer of air. The top of the inversion therefore occurs
at a greater height.
Turbulence may be greater if the wind is stronger. The mixing then causes the cooler
air to be spread through a much thicker layer. As a result, there is little lowering of
the temperature, and so an inversion does not occur (Inference: Wind strength and the
Consequent turbulence must lie between certain limits, if a deep surface inversion is to
occur.
Turbulence may sometime produce an upper inversion. In the turbulence layers air is
brought downward and heated by adiabatic compression. At the same time, air from lower
levels is raised and cools as a result of adiabatic expansion. After some time, all the air
in the turbulence layer will have undergone adiabatic expansion and compression in this
mixing process. An adiabatic lapse rate will develop within the layer; air at the bottom
will be warmer than formerly, while that at the top will be colder.
Above the turbulence layer the temperature will not be affected by adiabatic cooling.
As a result a turbulence inversion will be produced.
Diagram:

Subsidence Inversion In some regions of the atmosphere whole layer of air many hun-
dreds of metres thick may sink or subside. This process may occur over a wide area and is
know as Subsidence.
This effect is associated with horizontal mass convergence and divergence. Often con-
vergence takes place in the upper troposphere at the same time as divergence occurs near
the earths surface.
Diagram:
As some air flows outwards near the earths surface, it is replaced by other air sinking
downwards from aloft. The downward vertical velocity is greatest at about the middle
of the troposphere. At higher levels beneath the tropopause, the air flows inwards before
it makes its way downwards to lower levels. As the air spreads outward near the earths
surface the thickness of a layer of subsiding air generally decreases in this case the top
of the layer sinks more than the base. Now subsiding air warms due to the fact that is
undergoes adiabatic compression, as it reaches the higher pressure regions near the earths
surface. If the top of the layer subsides more than the base, it will be warmed more than
the base. If the top of the subsidizing layer reaches a higher temperature than its base, a
subsidence inversion is formed.
Subsidence is associated with high pressure areas (anticyclones) convergence aloft may
cause pressures to rise near the earths surface. Low-level div. may then occur initially as
the press grad force drives the air outwards. Gradually, however, the coriolis force increases
with the wind speed and tends to balance the press grad force. The air does not, however,
flow exactly around the isobars. The friction force produces outward cross-isobar flow, and
thus also contributes to the low level div.
52 CHAPTER 4. ATMOSPHERIC THERMODYNAMICS

Frontal Inversion Fronts may occur between air masses possessing different densities
and temperatures. If warm air is forced to rise overcool air in the vicinity of a frontal zone
the conditions necessary for the formation of an inversion are present. This is known as
a frontal inversion . Note: In addition to a rise in temperature; there is sometimes an
increase in the water vapor content at a frontal inversion. In this way it may differ from
other types of inversions in which a rapid decrease in moisture content usually occurs.

The Effects of Inversions


The stability of the air in an inversion is very great vertical motion is therefore resisted
and tends to die out rapidly. The existence of an inversion if often indicated by the tops
of clouds which are prevented from extending upwards. Their tops therefore spread out
beneath the base of the inversion layer. Similarly haze, caused by smoke or dust, is often
confined below a temperature inversion. Optical effects are also associated with inversions.
The refraction or bending of light rays depends on the temperature and content of the air.
In the vicinity of temperature inversions, refraction may be abnormal. Some mirages arise
when light rays are bent, as they travel downwards from a warm layer of air to a colder
one below. The transmission of radio waves of wavelengths less than 10m are similarly
affected by changes in the temperature and water vapor content of different layers of air
temperature inversions and the associated differences in the densities various layers of air
are particularly important due to their effects on the paths of the shorter radio waves used
in microwave transmissions and in radar.
Super-adiabatic Lapse Rates
Lapse rates . DALR. The atmosphere is then unstable and vertical currents usually
develop. These mix the air and redistribute the heat until the ELR=DALR. Superadiabatic
lapse rates are however, sometimes found within a layer that extends a few metres upwards
from the ground. This situation may occur when the ground is exposed to strong sunshine,
and light winds or calm conditions prevail.
Chapter 5

Circulation of the Atmosphere

The topics include wind (Beaufort scale of wind force, pressure gradient force, Coriolis
force, frictional force, Geostrophic wind scale, limitations), wind and pressure systems
(circulation cells on a rotating earth, mean surface pressure and wind distribution, climates
of the oceans, monsoons, land and sea breeze, katabatic and anabatic winds, other local
winds)
The atmosphere is always in motion. Ranging from tiny, turbulent whirls or eddies to
immense circulations extending over large areas.

5.1 Temperature Variation


Temperature difference exists between places due to position (equator, poles) and nature of
surface (land, sea). These differentials cause pressure variations due to uneven heating. At
the equator, the air is forced to rise up. Cold air from the poles moves to replace vacuum.
Air moves aloft from equator to poles. In figure 5.2, the arrows (blue) at the surface show
wind flow from high (H) to low (L) pressure at mean sea level on a non-rotating earth.
The red arrows show winds rising at the equator due to heating and sinking at the poles
due to cooling.

5.2 Circulation cells on a rotating earth: Coriolis Force


Because the earth is always rotating around its axis the flow as shown in 5.2 is not what
is observed in nature.
The flow is always deflected to the right of the direction of flow in the northern hemi-
sphere and to the left in the southern hemisphere. This deflection is shown by the arrows
in the same circle with the L and H (figure 5.3). The deflective force which arises as a
result of the rotation of the earth (and prevents the air from flowing directly from high to

53
54 CHAPTER 5. CIRCULATION OF THE ATMOSPHERE

low pressure) is called the Coriolis force). Three distinct cells are shown in figures 5.3 and
5.4 as follows:

1. Tropical cell (Hadley cell): Air from the low latitudes move towards the equator
and gets heated up. The heated air rises vertically and moves towards the pole in
the upper atmosphere. This forms a convection cell that is found in the tropical and
sub-tropical climates.

2. Midlatitude cell (Ferrel cell): This is a mid-latitude mean atmospheric circu-


lation cell. Here the air flows polewards and towards the east near the surface and
equatorward and in a westerly direction at higher levels.

3. Polar cell: Air rises, spreads out and travels toward the poles. Once over the poles,
the air sinks forming the polar highs. At the surface, the air spreads out from the
polar highs. Surface winds in the polar cell are easterly (polar easterlies).

It is worth noting the names of the surface climatological winds in figure 5.4 in both
hemispheres.
N.B: You can demonstrate this by turning a piece of paper pinned at the centre and
trying to draw a straight line at the same time.
The Coriolis force is an imaginary deflective force arising from Earths rotation that is
necessary to account for motions measured relative to the surface. This force is maximum
around the poles and very small or zero at the equator.

5.3 Mean surface pressure and wind distribution:Hadley Cell


Circulation
After much observation and calculation a British Scientist, Hadley, arrived at the mean
sea level general circulation over the globe. Notice the mean position of the Sub-tropical
High, the polar lows, the Equatorial trough and polar high (see figure 5.5 (a)). These
mean positions however change due to seasons and from place to place due to land or sea
distributions (figure 5.5 (b)).
Since the wind moves from high to low pressure, a force must be acting on it. The force
is referred to as Pressure Gradient Force (PGF). Under ideal conditions, this PGF must
equal the Coriolis Force. This equilibrium condition (i.e. the balance between the PGF
and the Coriolis Force) is known as Geostrophic Balance and the resultant wind is known
as Geostrophic Wind and is parallel to Isobars. The direction of the geostrophic wind is
determined using BUYS BALLOTS LAW.
The BUYS BALLOTs LAW states that if an observer stands with the wind to his
back in the Northern Hemisphere, the low pressure lies to his left, whilst in the Southern
Hemisphere the low pressure lies to his right.
5.4. GEOSTROPHIC WIND SCALE 55

If the wind is considered very close to the surface, then we introduce friction (in addition
to the PGF and the Coriolis force) which makes the wind blow at an angle to the Isobars.

5.4 Geostrophic wind scale


The Geostrophic wind scale is a diagram showing wind speeds for different pressure gradi-
ents. The diagram is usually drawn if a scale distance is to be used for isobar spacing.
Suppose the Geostrophic wind scale is to be drawn for isobars at 4mb intervals. To
use the scale, use a pair of dividers and measure the perpendicular distance between isobars
spaced at 4 millibar intervals at the required position on the plotting chart (i.e. after drawing
the synoptic chart). The distance is now transferred to the geostrophic wind scale so that
one leg of the dividers is placed on the vertical scale on the latitude of the position, whilst
the other will be at a point on or between the wind speed curves horizontally to the right of
the vertical. Follow the curve down to the base line where the wind speed can be read off
either directly or by interpolation. It is important to note that this is the geostrophic wind
which blows at and above 600m (2000ft). The surface wind speed (over the ocean) is about
2/3 that of the geostrophic. Over land, the surface wind is about 1/3 that of the geostrophic
(because of friction). See diagram 5.1 for the geostrophic wind scale.
Limitations A geostrophic wind scale does not take into account friction from the
land and sea surface, increases or decreases due to water and air temperature differences,
or interaction of weather systems within close proximity to each other, so these factors need
to be accounted for, after geostrophic wind is calculated. Also wind speed is calculated for
a standard height of 10 metres (33.3 ft) above sea level. Below this height the wind speed
is reduced by increased surface friction. Thus, below 10 m winds are normally less than
predicted and above 10 m winds are greater than expected.

5.5 Estimating wind force - Beaufort Scale


Before the advent of aviation, those most concerned with wind were seamen.
A set of descriptive terms of wind strength, evolved according to the effect on sailing
craft and on the disturbance of the sea (came to be used to a fair degree of uniformity).
Wind force is estimated on a numerical scale ranging from 0, calm, to 12, hurricane, first
adopted by Admiral Beaufort (The specification of the scale originally given had reference
to (or the effect of the wind on a well conditioned man-of war) (1800-50 period). As time
changed the original specifications became of little value but the same scale was retained.
The descriptions of the various scale numbers. are 0, calm; 1 light air; 2 to 6, light, gentle,
moderate, fresh and strong breeze, respectively; 7 to 9, near gale, gale , and strong gale,
respectively; 10 and 11, storm and violent storm, respectively; 12, hurricane. The same
scale has been adapted for use on land according to the effect on smoke, trees and buildings,
and further precision has been given by assigning to each number a definite range of speed.
56 CHAPTER 5. CIRCULATION OF THE ATMOSPHERE

Figure 5.1: Geostrophic Wind Scale is shown inserted in the upper left corner of the chart
5.6. SOME TERMINOLOGIES ASSOCIATED WITH THE WIND 57

5.6 Some Terminologies associated with the wind


Gusts, Lulls and Squalls: Gusts are increases in wind speed that exceeds the mean
wind speed by at least 30% but are short-lived (than squalls) while lulls are decreases.
Squalls are prolonged gusts where speed increases by at least 15 knots. Squalls are
associated with thunderstorms.

Veering and Backing: Surface winds shifting anti-clockwise are backing while those
shifting clockwise are veering. The terms were originally used in regards to the wind
direction changing with time. But currently the terms are also used in regards to the
wind direction changing with height.

Wind shear: Change in speed and/or direction of wind over a short distance between
the points of change. Wind shear can be found in thunderstorms and especially jet
streams (a narrow core of very strong winds).

5.7 True and Apparent Winds


The direction of the true wind is estimated by noting the direction of the sea waves.
The approximate speed of the wind may be estimated from the appearance of the sea
(see Beaufort scale).
The apparent wind direction and speed is the resultant of the ships course and speed
and the true wind direction and speed.
In drawing the vector diagram of the different velocities (i.e. triangle of velocities),
assume AB represents the ships course and speed. This is the wind caused by the ship;
hence the direction of the arrow head is opposite to the course.
Note that the three velocities being used here are (i) the true wind (T), (ii) the apparent
wind (A) and (iii) the wind caused by the ship (derived from the ships course and speed)
(S). Using the fact that the apparent wind is the resultant of the ships course and speed
and the true wind, we obtain the following vector expression;

A=T +S (5.1)

Thus the vector A is the sum or resultant of the vectors T and S shown in figure ??

5.7.1 Example 1
An officer on a vessel steaming NNE at 11 12 knots observes the apparent wind to be 6 points
on the port bow at 15 knots. What would be the true wind direction and speed? (Answer:
True wind west 15 knots).
58 CHAPTER 5. CIRCULATION OF THE ATMOSPHERE

5.7.2 Example 2
From a vessel on a course of 243o at 12 knots, the apparent wind was observed to be 120o
at 15 knots. Find the direction and speed of the true wind.

5.7.3 Example 3
Determine the direction and speed of the true wind of a vessel on course 045o at a speed of
15 knots. The observed apparent wind is at 100o at 20 knots.

5.8 Monsoons

5.9 Local Winds


As pointed out earlier, winds variations exist throughout the world due to local effects of
distribution of land and sea and topography.

5.9.1 Sea and Land Breeze


The land gets warm during the day, the air rises and is replaced by cooler air from the sea.
A local circulation, called the sea breeze, is set up (see figure 5.10).
Land breeze is the opposite of sea breeze. This occurs at night when the air over the
ocean is relatively warmer and that over the land is relatively cooler. Thus warm air over
the sea rises and is replaced by cooler air from the land. Again, a local circulation is set
up (figure 5.11).

5.9.2 Katabatic Winds


Diagram:
At night the land gets cold and air at C close to the land is colder than air at D. The C
becomes heavier and flows down the slope into the valley below. In mountainous areas like
the Alps, cold wind gust out of valley due to this phenomenon known as Katabatic winds.
They are responsible for the Mistral in Europe.

5.9.3 Anabatic Winds


These are opposite to Katabatic winds during the day time. C becomes warmer than D and
air rises along the slope.
5.9. LOCAL WINDS 59

5.9.4 Fohn Winds

This is wind blowing over mountain leaving the windward side with clouds/rain and to the
lee ward side with dry and warmer air.
Diagrams:
Dry adiabatic Lapse Rate (D.A.L.R) 10o C/km Saturated Adiabatic Lapse Rate (S.A.L.R)
6o C/km.
The air rising from A at the wind side is at D.A.L.R. until condensation takes place at
B 1 3 km above ground to form clouds. Then the air moves at S.A.L.R until it gets to D,
3 km above ground. Some moisture is removed due to rain.
On the leeward side, the air descends from D, still at S.A.L.R until E (2 km) when
it dries out, then it descends again at the D.A.L.R until G where the temperature is now
higher than it started at A.
Because it descends a longer distance from E to G it is both drier and hotter and it is
very uncomfortable for those living to leeward side of mountains.

5.9.5 Mountain Waves

Diagram:
These are waves set up by the wind blowing over mountains.
These stationary waves extend to height about 5 times the height of the mountains
causing them and extending so many miles to the leeward. Altocumulus clouds form in the
crests of the waves. These are used by gliders who ride the waves for long distances.
Diagram:

5.9.6 Turbulence

Turbulence is defined as the small scale and short time variations in wind (both strength
and direction). Two types exist (Thermal, Frictional).
Turbulence can be found over land surface due to buildings, forests, jet streams, etc.
Their effect on aircraft in flight or take off or landing cannot be over emphasized.
Wind Shear
Diagram:
Change in speed and or direction of wind over a short distance between the points of
change. Wind Shear can be found in thunderstorms and especially jet streams (A narrow
core of strong winds).
Effects of wind shear on aircraft regarding head wind and then tail wind are vital in
planning flights economically and for passenger comfort.
60 CHAPTER 5. CIRCULATION OF THE ATMOSPHERE

5.9.7 Clear Air Turbulence (CAT)


Clear air turbulence can be found over areas near jet-streams and areas of intense heating
without any visible cloud.
Near Jet-streams, Mountain Waves; Desert areas can be dangerous to aircraft by frac-
turing its body. Near Jet-streams Due to sharp velocity change. Over Deserts - Due to
intense convectivity creating differentials in heating.
These areas change from season to season.

5.9.8 Jet Streams


A narrow core of very strong winds mostly found at high altitudes near the tropopause.
Location: Subtropical Highs and Polar Low areas. There is a weaker jet-stream (Easterly)
in tropics.
In the mid latitudes, they can be found around fronts. Useful to aircraft as tail wind
but dangerous as head wind and due to the turbulence associated with them.

5.9.9 Climates of the oceans


The wind and pressure systems over the ocean includes topics such as the general circula-
tion, pressure distribution, individual wind systems, doldrums, ITCZ, local winds, etc
5.9. LOCAL WINDS 61

Figure 5.2: Circulation cells on a non rotating earth

Figure 5.3: Circulation cells on a rotating earth


62 CHAPTER 5. CIRCULATION OF THE ATMOSPHERE

Figure 5.4: Circulation cells on a rotating earth with names of the winds
5.9. LOCAL WINDS 63

Figure 5.5: (a) Ideal Zonal Pressure Belts, (b) Actual Zonal Pressure Belts

Figure 5.6: Wind in geostrophic balance flowing (A) along parallel and (B) curved isobars
64 CHAPTER 5. CIRCULATION OF THE ATMOSPHERE

Figure 5.7: Frictionless circulation around closed isobars in the Northern Hemisphere

Figure 5.8: Frictionless circulation around closed isobars in the Southern Hemisphere
5.9. LOCAL WINDS 65

Figure 5.9: Friction causing geostrophic wind to cross parallel isobars toward low pressure

Figure 5.10: Daytime development of sea breeze


66 CHAPTER 5. CIRCULATION OF THE ATMOSPHERE

Figure 5.11: Nighttime Development of land breeze


Chapter 6

Cloud and Precipitation

The topics include water vapour, lapse rates, formation of cloud and precipitation, principal
cloud types, description

6.1 Water in the atmosphere


Water in the atmosphere is usually unseen and in the form of vapour. It is present almost
every where in the troposphere. Clouds provide visual evidence of the presence of water
in the atmosphere and very often indicate future trends in the weather. Most clouds are
formed by cooling of moist air.
The water vapor in the atmosphere must be transformed into water drops or ice crystals
before cloud can appear and the cloud particles must increase still further in size before they
are able to fall out as precipitation. Cloud droplets have diameters of the order of 20m.
Moist air is a term used to specify the state of the atmosphere in respect of its water vapor
content. Moist air = Dry air + Water Vapor

P = (P P )dry air + e (6.1)


Where P is total press, PPdry air is Partial Pressure of dry air and e is Partial Pressure
or Vapor Pressure. Thus

(P P )dry air = P e (6.2)


Evaporation takes place when dry air is confined in contact with a surface of water or ice
and the vapour pressure increases. At any one temperature there is a limit to the amount
of vapour that can be taken up in this way. When this limit is reached the air is said to
be saturated and the vapor pressure has reached its maximum value, the Saturation Vapor
Pressure (es ) for that particular temperature. If e is less than es , the air is unsaturated.
A cloud may be defined as a visible aggregate of minute particles of water or ice, or
both, in the free air. The International cloud atlas of the World Meteorological Organization

67
68 CHAPTER 6. CLOUD AND PRECIPITATION

gives a detailed account of the present system of classification, illustrated by a large number
of carefully selected photographs.

6.2 Principal cloud types


The different clouds are given descriptive names that depend mainly upon appearance, but
also sometimes upon processes of formation as seen by an observer. It is possible to define
ten basic types of world-wide occurrence. These ten are taken as genera. Most genera
possess several species and many of these, in turn, occur as a number of varieties. The
genera or principal cloud types are

1. Cirrus (Ci). Detached clouds in the form of white, delicate filaments, or white or
mostly white patches or narrow bands. These clouds have a fibrous (hair-like) ap-
pearance or a silky sheen or both.

2. Cirrocumulus (Cc). Thin, white patch, sheet or layer of cloud without shading, com-
posed of very small elements in the form of grains, ripples, etc

3. Cirrostratus (Cs). Transparent, whitish cloud veil of fibrous or smooth appearance,


totally or partly covering the sky, and generally producing halo phenomena.

4. Altocumulus (Ac). White or grey, or both white and grey, patch, sheet or layer
of cloud,generally without shading, composed of laminae, rounded masses, rolls, etc
which are sometimes partly fibrous of diffuse, and which may or may not be merged.

5. Altostratus (As). Greyish or bluish cloud sheet or layer of striated, fibrous or uniform
appearance, totally or partly covering the sky. It has parts that are thin enough to
reveal the sun at least vaguely, as through ground glass.

6. Nimbostratus (Ns). Grey cloud layer, often dark, the appearance of which is rendered
diffuse by more or less continually falling rain or snow which in most cases reaches
the ground. It can blot out the sun because it is thick enough. Most often low, ragged
clouds occur below the layer. The low clouds may or may not merge with the layer.

7. Stratocumulus (Sc). Grey or whitish, or both grey and whitish, patch, sheet or layer of
cloud which almost always has dark parts, composed of tessellations, rounded masses,
rolls, etc, which are non-fibrous (except for virga) and may or may not be merged.

8. Stratus (St). Generally grey cloud layer with a fairly uniform base, which may give
drizzle, ice prism or snow grains.

9. Cumulus (Cu). Detached clouds, generally dense and with sharp outlines, developing
vertically in the form of rising mounds, domes or towers, of which the bulging upper
part often resembles a cauliflower.
6.2. PRINCIPAL CLOUD TYPES 69

10. Cumulonimbus (Cb). Heavy and dense cloud, with a considerable vertical extent, in
the form of a mountain or huge towers.

Figure 6.1: International cloud symbols (source:www.visualdictionaryonline.com)

Clouds can be classified as low, medium and high depending on the heights at which
the bases of clouds occur. The approximate height-ranges vary with latitude as indicated in
table 6.2.
Generally, the clouds in each of these layers are distinctive. Thus Ci, Cc and Cs are
normally high clouds, Ac, As and Ns medium clouds, St, Sc, Cu and Cb low clouds.
Clouds can also be classified as
1. layered, or stratiform, clouds;
2. heaped, or cumliform, clouds;
3. fibrous, or cirriform, clouds.

6.2.1 Formation and dispersal of clouds


Cloud formation has to do with lifting of air. Mechanisms that lift air
70 CHAPTER 6. CLOUD AND PRECIPITATION

Level Height ranges in Height-ranges in Height-ranges in


polar regions temperate regions tropical regions
(km) (km) (km)
High 3-8 5-13 5-18
Medium 2-4 2-7 2-8
Low From earths surface to 2 kilometres

Table 6.1: Approximate height-ranges at which bases of clouds are found

1. Orographic uplift

2. Frontal Lifting

3. Convergence

4. Localized Convection

Read stability and the environmental lapse (see section 4.10.2).

Formation of clouds

1. Adiabatic expansion

2. Contact with a cold object

3. Mixing of two nearly saturated masses of air of marked different temperatures.

Dispersal of clouds

1. Evaporation

2. Fall-out as precipitation.

Typical sequence of cloud changes


Ci Cs As Ns

Cloud Movement
At any given height, clouds general move with the speed and direction of the wind at
that height.
6.3. PRECIPITATION 71

6.3 Precipitation
Precipitation is the deposit on the earths surface of water in liquid or solid state or a
combination of both. The principal forms are

Drizzle water droplets with diameters between 200m (i.e. microns) and 500m.

Rain - water droplets with diameters exceeding 500m

Snow or snowflakes - Small ice crystals or aggregates of ice crystals

Hail - Balls of ice of varying size

Sleet - Mixture of rain and snow

Ice pellets, prisms or granular snow also occur, usually but not always, precipitation is
associated with a cloud. On occasions it can be seen leaving the base of a cloud in vertical
or inclined trails which do not reach the surface, which are termed fallstreaks or virga.
Diagram:-

6.3.1 General Causes of Cloud and precipitation


A cloud is formed by the condensation of water vapour into droplets, or occasionally into
ice crystals. The immediate cause of condensation to water drops is the reduction of air
temperatures below the dew-point. In nature this may be effected in the following ways.
(i) loss of heat my conduction to a cold surface (ii) loss of heat by radiation from the
air (or further from the w.v. contained in the air) (iii) adiabatic cooling due to ascent
Process (i) may result only in a deposition of dew on the cold surface (or of hoar frost
if the temperature is below freezing point) but if the air near the surface is subject to slight
turbulent mixing the cooling is spread upwards and temperature may fall below the dew-
point through an appreciable depth. Condensation then takes place within the air itself and
a cloud is formed resting on the surface (ie mist or fog according to its opacity).
Process (iii) may modify the formation of fog and cloud, but its precise importance is
not easy to estimate. When a fog or cloud has formed, radiation from its upper surface
may affect its further development (but it is doubtful whether radiation from the air is ever
the sole cause of condensation).
Apart, therefore, from fog due to surface cooling, the methods of cloud formation reduce
to only one, adiabatic cooling by reduction of pressure, which is almost entirely associated
with vertical motion.
(i) turbulence (mechanical) (or frictional turbulence) (ii) Orographic ascent (iii) Con-
vection (or thermal turbulence) (iv) Slow widespread ascent
Note that two or more of these effects may occur simultaneously, giving a wide variety
of cloud types which do not fall definitely into any simple class. Condensation level, size
72 CHAPTER 6. CLOUD AND PRECIPITATION

and terminal volume of drops, precipitation, ice-particle theory of precipitation, coalescence


theory of precipitation (Read HOAM).

Mechanical Turbulence
Air flow over the earths surface is generally deformed by frictional forces into a series of
eddies. This turbulent motion is accentuated by buildings, trees, hills etc.
Air in the friction layer is thoroughly mixed by mechanical turbulence [if the layer is
initially stable, the upper part will be cooled and lower portion warmed. As a result, a dry
adiabatic lapse rate may become established in the layer if the air remains unsaturated.
Similarly, the turbulence mixes the H20 vapour in the turbulent layer (it is carried
up and down within the layer, cooling as it rises and warming as it falls. If, during the
ascent, it cools to below the dew-point, condensation will occur, this level marking the base
of a layer of turbulent cloud). The w.v. content in the layer therefore tends to become
evened out. As a result, the air may become saturated at some distance below the top of
the friction layer. Condensation may then occur at a height above the ground known as the
mixing condensation level (MCL). This represents the base of the cloud.
[If cloud forms by turbulence the DALR will only extend up its base (MCL). The SALR
will then extend to the top of the turbulence inversion at the upper limit of the friction
layer].
The cloud formed by turbulence is initially stratus, a sheet cloud without definite form.
It may either continue as such, or else the upper and lower surface may develop a wave-like
appearance.
When these undulations occur, the thickness of the cloud may then vary, an sometimes
breaks may be seen. These arise as a result of cloud being formed in the up currents, and
evaporated in the down currents. This is classed as stratocumulus.
[Turbulence clouds may also develop below rain-bearing clouds, such N3 AS and . They
are the very ragged clouds
Diagram:-
[These clouds derive their moisture from the evaporation of raindrops and surface rain
H20. Turbulence near the earths surface then produces ragged low clouds in the air beneath
the main cloud formation.
Sometimes high SC or AC are observed when the wind changes with height through
a humid layer, high above the friction layer. Turbulent motion may then occur at these
heights, but usually some other factor is responsible for the high w.v content. The moisture
has not been transferred to that level by direct mixing due to turbulence near the earths
surface] [This type of cloud is common when Tm air reaches temperate latitudes. Here the
R.H becomes even higher. Under these conditions a layer of cloud can be wide-spread and
persistent over the oceans at any season, and overland areas for much of the year although
inland in summer the cloud will often become broken or even disappear altogether during
the day. Over land the most rapid changes in turbulence and RH take place in the early
6.3. PRECIPITATION 73

evening and again after dawn; it is at these times that changes in turbulence cloud are most
likely with fresh clouds being formed and/or existing cloud dissipating. Over the open sea
(in the absence of air-mass changes) there is the little diurnal variation of temperatures;
humidity or turbulence, and therefore there are fever changes in cloud types and amounts.]

Orographic Ascent
When moist air is blown against rising ground such as a range of hills or a mountainous
island (or barrier of hills of mountain ranges) the forced ascent (both near the surface and
at upper levels) and adiabatic cooling can lead to condensation and cloud may form. The
type of cloud depends on some factors eg. Stability of the air in which it is formed.
Stratus is frequently formed in moist stable air.
Cumulus is characteristic of air which is slightly unstable. If instability is established
through a great depth of the atmosphere, cb may develop.
If moisture content is insufficient, no clouds are formed. Orographic clouds forms
continuously on the windward side of the hill or mountain, but clears on the lee side (due
to descent and thus warming).
Sometimes cloud formed high above the hill or mountain.
When there is a layer of almost saturated air aloft, orographic lifting of the air may
cause condensation to occur above the obstruction. A persistent cloud cap may form.
Viewed from below, it is thin at the ends with a thicker an broader centre, shaped like
a lens lenticular cloud.
Diagram:-

Convection
When a portion of parcel of air is heated to a temperature higher than the surrounding
atmosphere, the parcel will rise freely (if the ELR . DALR up to the condensation level)
and will continue to rise, accompanied by cloud development, (if the ELR . SALR above
this level).
* It combines with mechanical turbulence to mix the air the lower layers of the atmo-
sphere.
[Generally, the ELR tends to the DALR, while the air remains unsaturated. This lapse
rate may be established up to the CCL cloud forms at this level, but the extent of its upward
development depends on a number of factors. Example ELR in the air above the cloud
base.
If ELR SALR, the atmosphere is unstable for saturated parcels of air. The saturated
air is forced to rise. It continues to rise until it reaches a level where it is no longer warmer
than its surroundings].
A cumuliform cloud depends in this way. (Their vertical extent varies 1km 10km).
Isolated convection clouds of limited extent are called fair-weather cumulus. Their vertical
74 CHAPTER 6. CLOUD AND PRECIPITATION

development is insufficient for precipitation to occur. Sometimes the vertical currents are
terminated by a marked inversion above the CCL. The top of the cloud then spreads out
beneath the inversion and the cloud develops into SC.
[Convection may be caused by local heating of the air in contact with the ground as a
sunny days over land, or by cool air moving over progressively warmer sea, as occurs in
the trade wind belt or when polar air flows to more temperate latitudes. This warmed air
over land or sea cannot rise as a single mass over a large area because other air must fall
to take its place; it therefore ascends in distinct columns, hence the well-known pattern of
individual clouds with clear spaces between where the air is descending. Such columns or
heaps of cloud are known as cumulus]
If ELR above the condensation level the SALR through a deep layer an dif sufficient
moisture is available clouds may then extend to great heights. Sometimes even up to level
where ice crystals form cb (the TS cloud).
Diagram:- Cb with Fibrous Top The veil of ice crystals that surrounds the upper parts
of the clouds gives it a smooth fibrous appearance which distinguishes it from a Cu cloud.
Slight or heavy precipitation may develop according to the degree of instability and to
the height and temperature reaches.

Slow Widespread Ascent


Already discussed is cloud formation arising from vertical motions associated with distur-
bances of relatively small horizontal dimensions. (ie frictional turbulence, local convection
currents and orographic barriers, usually covering areas of a few km in extent.
Vertical motion is also produced by large wind systems, such as the depressions (low) and
anticyclones (high) located on MSL synoptic pressure charts. Subsidence (slow widespread
descent of air that occurs in anticyclones) may occur with high level convergence and low
level divergence. (Friction force is also responsible for some outward cross-isobar flow of
the air near the earths surface). The reverse effect may be associated with depressions
(lows). High level divergence and low level convergence can lead to ascent of the air. The
friction force may also produce a certain amount of low level convergence in the friction
layer. This is associated with cross-isobar flow towards the centre of the depression.
The upward motion in a depression is distributed over a very extensive area and so the
vertical velocities a re relatively small. Nevertheless, the ascent may persist for many days
causing large masses of air to ascend through many kilometers.
Chapter 7

Visibility and Fog

The topics include hydrometeors, visibil- 7.1 Factors affecting visibil-


ity, determination of visibility, limitations, ity
restricted visibility, fog formation, fog types,
fog distribution, criteria for fog formation, The causes of atmospheric obscurity include
estimation of fog, precautions, etc (i) Fog and mist, (ii) cloud and precipita-
tion, (iii) wind-blown spray from the sea,
(iv) Smoke, (v) Sand and dust or haze, (vi)
Visibility is the transparency of the at- Oils, (vii) Salt.
mosphere in relation to human vision. Fog and mist - caused by water droplets
(and ice crystals in ice fog)
Wind-blown spray - caused by water droplets
Meteorological Visibility by Day: the Cloud and precipitation - caused by water
greatest distance at which a black object of droplets and/or ice particles
suitable dimensions can be seen and recog- Smoke, sand and dust - caused by solid
nized against the horizon sky. It should sub- impurities
tend an angle at the observers eye of at least Hydrometeors are fog, mist, rain, snow,
0.5o horizontally and vertically. Also not etc.
more than 5o horizontally. Lithometeors are dust, smoke, etc

7.1.1 Haze
Meteorological Visibility by Night:
Greatest distance at which the black object of A suspension of predominantly non-aqueous,
suitable dimensions could be seen and recog- solid particles (e.g. smoke and dust) invisi-
nized, if the general illumination were raised ble to the naked eye and sufficiently numer-
to the normal daylight level. In practice un- ous (to give the air an opalescent appear-
focused lights of moderate intensity at known ance). It is very rare for haze to reduce visi-
distances are used. The silhouttes of hills bility to less than 1km (industrial and desert
and mountains against the sky may also be areas) but there is no upper limit. To en-
used. sure that the concentration of any droplets

75
76 CHAPTER 7. VISIBILITY AND FOG

present is very small, the RH must be low essential difference between these types is in
to make even droplets containing a high pro- the mode of cooling. In radiational fog, the
portion of solute evaporate. RH is less than air remains stationary or slow moving while
95% (80%? check). In most cases the par- the ground cools while in advection fog, the
ticles composing haze are small enough to air is transported to a place of lower surface
cause differential scattering of sunlight and temperature.
to contribute for example to sunrise and sun-
set colours. Radiation fog
This is caused by cooling of the ground by
7.1.2 Mist nocturnal radiation. It occurs on cloudless
nights when radiation from the earth has cooled
A state of atmospheric obscurity produced
its surface to below the dewpoint of the air
by suspended water droplets or wet hygro-
adjacent to it. Conduction cools this air un-
scopic particles with radii usually less than
til condensation takes place.
one micron. The visibility is greater than
Air is a poor conductor and the cooling
or equal to 1 km; the corresponding RH is
may be limited in depth to a few centime-
greater than or equal to 95%. The droplets
tres. Dew or frost may then form on the
(are smaller and) are more sparse than in
cooler ground, removing water vapour from
fog. And the concentration of solute within
the air. Any turbulence will, however, cause
them is usually higher (so that they can per-
mixing of the air and the cooling may then
sist at lower values of the RH, down to about
spread through a greater depth. If turbulence
80%?).
is sufficient, stratus cloud may form.
If the wind is light (3-7 kts) and less tur-
7.1.3 Fog bulence occurs, fog may be formed. The cold
saturated air is carried to higher levels and
Obscurity in the surface layers of the atmo-
drier air is brought to the surface, which in
sphere which is caused by a suspension of wa-
turn is cooled and saturated. As the process
ter droplets (with or without smoke particles
continues the whole layer of air become sat-
-smog) with radii mostly in the range 1 to
urated. A temperature inversion is often as-
10, reducing visibility to below 1km. RH
sociated with radiation fog, which, acting as
is nearly 100% (100 for pure water and less
lid, keeps the fog lower down and causes it
when droplets contain large concentrations of
to thicken
the soluble nuclei). Here visibility depends
The conditions favourable for the forma-
on sizes and concentrations of droplets in
tion of radiation fog include
it. When they are small or numerous - poor
visibility. When the particles are large or 1. Cooling effect of the ground in the night
sparse, visibility is not so bad. In general, must be very strong (i.e. large terres-
however, condensation is usually associated trial radiation)
with a cold underlying surface. There are
two distinct types of fog that occur in this 2. Cloudless sky (permitting loss of radi-
way; radiation fog and advection fog. The ation from surface)
7.1. FACTORS AFFECTING VISIBILITY 77

3. Air mass must be sufficiently moist: South America. Note that the areas men-
high RH so that little cooling is required tioned have cold sea currents flowing through
to reach the dew point (i.e. high dew them.
point) Ashore, it is particularly likely when in
winter, after a cold spell, a supply of milder
4. Little or no wind (slight turbulence):
air arrives from the sea. The air is cooled by
confining the cooling to the lower lay-
the colder land surface over which it passes
ers
and fog is formed.
The methods of dispersal of radiation fog
include Mixing fog

1. Insolation Mixing fog (or frontal fog) forms at the bound-


ary layer of two completely different air masses.
2. Strong winds For example, if a cold air current meets a
3. Cloudiness warm moist air current, the latter will be
cooled at the boundary and fog may form
In winter there is rarely sufficient heat tothere. Fog near a warm front or occlusion
disperse fog and persistent fogs occur. Over is quite common over the sea in temperate
industrial areas SMOG frequently forms and high latitudes, and may be persistent in
as the smoke from chimneys is trapped under an area when a front becomes stationary.
the temperature inversion. This type of fog
may occur overnight on the banks of rivers Hill fog or Orographic fog
but usually disperses fairly quickly in the morn-
ing. Over high ground, a fog can be regarded as
Effect of pollution on radiation fog a cloud on the ground. It may be one of the
The presence of hygroscopic nuclei, as usual cloud types that requires adiabatic as-
in industrial areas, facilitates fog formation cent for its formation. It is found on wind-
by allowing condensation to occur in unsat- ward coasts.
urated air.
Sea smoke or Arctic smoke or steam
Advection fog fog
This is caused by the transport of relatively This is caused by evaporation into cold air
warm air over a colder surface. The when lying over warm water. The air next to the
warm moist air is cooled below its dew point water is warmed by conduction. This warmed
by conduction from the cold surface (land or air takes up water vapour before rising through
sea) and fog is formed. the colder air above, where cooling condenses
Sea fog is an example of advection fog. out the water vapour. The overall effect is
Sea fog occurs mainly in the summer months that of visible steaming. This frequently oc-
in the following areas:- British Isles, Banks curs in winter over rivers and also off the
of Newfoundland, West Coast of North Amer- east coast of continents.
ica, Japan, West Coast of South Africa and Note
78 CHAPTER 7. VISIBILITY AND FOG

Note that there can be ice fogs. These


are liable to occur in the Arctic and Antarc-
tic when the temperature is less than about
-20o C, the wind is light and other conditions
are favourable.

7.1.4 Estimating Visibility at Sea


Visibility can not be observed as accurately
as at land stations, since marker objects are
not available. Only decade code 90-99 of In-
ternational code 4377 need normally be used.
In a large ship, it is possible to use ob-
jects aboard ship for estimation when visibil-
ity is low. Errors can however, arise since
the air is affected by the ship.
For higher ranges of visibility, the ap-
pearance of the land when coasting is a useful
guide. In addition, if fixes can be obtained,
the distances of landmarks, just as they are
appearing or disappearing, may be measured
from the chart.
Similarly, in open sea, when other ships
are sighted and their distances are known,
visibility can be obtained. Sometimes the dis-
tances can be obtained by radar.
In the absence of other objects, the ap-
pearance of the horizon, as observed from
different levels, may be used as a basis of the
estimation. Care is needed, however, as ab-
normal refraction may introduce errors. At
night, the appearance of navigation lights can
give a useful indication of the visibility.
Sometimes the visibility varies in differ-
ent directions. It should then be estimated or
measured in the direction of least visibility.
A suitable entry is made in the log, excluding
reduction of visibility due to ships smoke.
Chapter 8

Air Masses: Frontal and synoptic


Systems

Air Mass: A large body of air (with dimensions of the order of 1000 km) and with little
or no horizontal variation of any of its properties (like temperature and moisture). That
is, level for level, its temperature and moisture content are approximately the same over
large horizontal distances.
Source Regions: Parts of the earths surface where air masses stagnate, and gradually
assume characteristics typical of that surface. Prolonged stagnation of an air mass is
commonly found in the central parts of large, slow-moving anticyclones, especially those in
the subtropical and Polar high-pressure belts
Air Mass Classification:
1. Temperature: In order of increasing latitude (a) Equatorial air, (b) Tropical, (c)
Polar, (d) Arctic (or Antarctic) air. It is difficult to distinguish between (a) and
(b) as sharp differences in temperature are rarely maintained for long periods in the
warmer regions of the earth. However, Arctic (or Antarctic) air is extremely cold and
dry (because it can hold very little moisture). It is sometimes possible to distinguish a
front between (c) and (d). Equatorial air is mostly warm, moist and often unstable,
especially after lifting. The equatorial belt is the region between the two trade wind
zones
2. Moisture: (a) Maritime, (b) Continental. The generalizations are (a) Tropical Mar-
itime (Tm ), (b) Tropical Continental (Tc ) , (c) Polar Maritime (Pm ) and Polar
Continental (Pc ).
Air Mass Characteristics
Tropical Maritime (Tm ) Air Mass: Its source regions are the subtropical anticyclones
in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It starts with a high temperature, high relative
humidity and high dew-point.

79
80 CHAPTER 8. AIR MASSES: FRONTAL AND SYNOPTIC SYSTEMS

Tropical Continental (Tc ) Air Mass: Its source region during winter is north Africa.
During summer the source occupies a vast area extending across North Africa and
Southern Europe to eastern Asia; another source region in Summer is the arid region
of North America to the west of the Mississippi. It is warm at its source with low
relative and absolute humidity.

Polar Maritime (Pm ) Air Mass: Its source regions are the northern parts of the North
Atlantic and North Pacific oceans. At the source, it has low temperature, low dew
point, high relative humidity and stable lapse rate at least in the lower layers.

Polar Continental (Pc ) and Arctic: Its source regions are the northern parts of the
Eurasian and North American continents and are more extensive in winter than in
summer. The arctic regions, situated between these two areas constitute the source
region for arctic air. Since at the source the Pc and A air masses are in contact
with a surface mostly covered with snow or ice, the air and dew-point temperatures
are low; (the lapse rate is stable in the lower layers and perhaps also aloft because of
subsidence).

Equatorial: The equatorial belt included between the two trade wind zones form an
extensive source region of equatorial air which for most part is warm, moist and often
unstable, especially after lifting.

Air Mass Modification:

1. Cold air over warm surface: If a cold air mass moves over a warmer surface, it is
heated from below (Thermal instability then develops in the lower layers and spreads
upwards. If the air originally contained inversions, these will be destroyed, and a
uniform steep lapse rate will be established in the lower troposphere). If it travels
over water, its moisture content will increase (transfer of water vapour by convection
to higher levels will result in condensation and cloud formation: cu, large cu and
finally cb). Showers and thunderstorm may occur.

2. Warm air over cold surface: If a warm air mass moves over a colder surface it is
cooled from below and becomes increasingly stable. Thus stable weather results. If the
air near the earths surface is cooled below its dew point, fog or stratus may form.
(Poor visibility or drizzle may occur).
Chapter 9

Fronts

This is more correctly called frontal zone. It is a zone of transition in which the properties
of one air mass gradually change to those of another. The frontal zone could be many
kilometers across. The two air masses could have different densities. A front is marked
on a chart by a line and this line is called a front. The interaction of two air masses at
a front or frontal zone is responsible for much cloud and precipitation. Note that the front
represented by a line on the chart marks only the dividing line on the earths surface; the
two air masses, however extend upwards and the division is really a surface in space; this
is known as a frontal surface.

9.1 Kinds of front


Polar front: It is the boundary between adjacent polar and tropical air masses

Arctic front: It is the boundary between arctic and polar air masses. It lies further
north than the polar front but is often displaced southwards into temperate latitudes
in winter.

Mediterranean front: This usually extends from west to east over the mediterranean
in winter and forms the boundary between Pc air from Europe and Tc air from north
Africa. There is no corresponding front in this region in Summer.

Inter-tropical front: It lies within the tropics and marks the rather broad zones of
separation between air masses conveyed by the trade winds from source regions on
opposite sides of the equator. This arrangement is, however, subject to modification
by monsoonal winds, particularly those of Asia. The front is usually less well defined
than the fronts previously mentioned . Partly for this reason, the name inter-tropical
convergence zone (ITCZ) is sometimes preferred. Its position normally varies little
from day to day but undergoes a regular seasonal shift during the course of the year.

81
82 CHAPTER 9. FRONTS

9.2 Types of Fronts


Warm front: This is formed when warm air is displacing cold air (or when warmer
mass is moving to displace the colder mass). That is, Tropical air moving to replace
Polar air.
Idealized Warm Front Weather: If the warm air is moist, the approach of a warm
front may be detected far ahead by the appearance of Ci and Cs cloud in a continually
denser sheet. If the over-running air is unstable and turbulent, Cc may be seen (i.e.
a mackerel sky).
Middle level clouds such as As and Ac develop as front comes closer (the warm air
becoming lower). Rain or snow may first fall, as the As cloud reaches its greatest
density [Sometimes, however, hydrometeors evaporate before reaching the ground and
virga can be seen below the main cloud deck]. The precipitation intensifies as Ns cloud
develops. Lower clouds are also often present in the cold air. [Evaporation of rain
drops and the surface rain water accompanied by turbulence leads to the development
of these lower clouds].
The actual weather conditions associated with a warm front depend largely on the
characteristics of the warm air before it is lifted. Furthermore, in view of the slow
rate of ascent of the air up the relatively gradual sloping surface, much of the heavy
rain can only be explained by the presence of strong convection within the warm air.
Therefore, this air must itself be unstable.
Cold front: Where the colder air is gaining ground. that is, cold dense air moving to
replace warm air. Polar air moving to replace tropical air.
Idealized Cold Front Weather: Often possess a steep slope. Acts more violently in
producing clouds and precipitation, when cold air replaces warm moist air. The front
may be characterized by cb clouds, gusty turbulent winds, heavy rain and sometimes
thunderstorm. When the cold front interacts with moist unstable air, a squall line
accompanied by sudden showers and a vigorous wind shift may occur. [A steep cold
front produces within a very short distance the same amount of lifting, as occurs of
a much broader zone in advance of a warm front.] It is therefore accompanied by a
much narrower band of cloud and precipitation, than that which occurs with a warm
front. Its effect tends to be brief but violent.
Stationary Front: At times there is little change in position. That is, the front is sta-
tionary or quasi-stationary. This is a front moving in such a way that the movement
is small and irregular.

Diagrams (a) (b) (c)


Notes: Cyclogenesis: The initiation of cyclonic circulation or its strengthening around
an existing cyclone. The opposite is Cyclolysis.
9.2. TYPES OF FRONTS 83

Table 9.1: Comparison between warm and cold fronts


Warm Front Cold Front
Has a gradual slope (1/250). Steeper than warm front (1/75)
Because it is moving over gradual Moves fast because the air
slope, approach can be detected far ahead by cirrus; Cs being pushed out is warm and moist; TS/rain
then As, Ac follow with the beginning of rain, drizzle, then NS. develops. Though its effect are more violent,
ST and other two clouds also develop. TS also they are rather brief. There is a lot of turbule
develops if the warm air is unstable the zone of the front

Figure 9.1: Atmospheric cross-section of a cold front


84 CHAPTER 9. FRONTS

Figure 9.2: Atmospheric cross-section of a warm front


9.2. TYPES OF FRONTS 85

Figure 9.3: Atmospheric cross-section of an occluded front


86 CHAPTER 9. FRONTS

Figure 9.4: Stationary front on a map (source:http://www.atmos.uiuc.edu/snodgrss/Fronts lab.html)


Chapter 10

Extra-tropical Depressions

A marked concentration of potential energy occurs in the vicinity of the polar front. A
natural mechanism which provides for the release of this energy is wave depression or wave
cyclone. It is called extra-tropical because it occurs outside the tropics. Extra-tropical
depressions may sometimes develop in the absence of a front. However, those that do
form along a front are associated with a wavelike twist on the front. Some of these waves
undergo little or no change and eventually die - ripple or stable waves. However, sometimes
the amplitude of the wave increases until great masses of polar or tropical air are carried
away from their source regions and eventually become modified and mixed together. These
types are called unstable waves. These grow in amplitude until they eventually break like
ocean waves.

10.1 Formation of frontal depression (on polar fronts)


If the polar front were quasi-stationary, isobars would be parallel to it but a temperature
contrast will still exist across it (fig). [Such a front will be in equilibrium if the winds are
geostrophic. The surface of discontinuity between two air masses is like the surface of the
sea, subject to wave formation; stable ocean waves in light winds and unstable when winds
are strong. Both occur in a similar manner at the gently sloping frontal surface, except
wavelengths are much greater. Because of the slope of the frontal surface, the wave motion
gives rise to a horizontal oscillation in the line where the frontal surface meets the ground
so that the warm air at the ground forms a bulge into the cold air].
If warm air is somehow displaced northwards or cold air is displaced southwards, the
polar front will develop a kink. When this occurs, surface pressure falls near the point of
distortion. Sometimes this pressure fall is only small and the kink runs rapidly along the
front without amplifying - stable wave or ripple, which affects a very small area and moves
perhaps as fast as 60kts.
At other times pressure falls continue, the amplitude increases forming an open wave

87
88 CHAPTER 10. EXTRA-TROPICAL DEPRESSIONS

or warm sector depression. This is the case of an unstable wave. [Waves are unstable only
if the wavelength lies between 800 and 2000 miles and if there is a sufficiently rapid change
(shear) of wind between the two air masses. With the unstable waves, a fall of pressure
occurs where the warm air intrudes into the cold and a cyclonic circulation is then created.
The front moves with the circulating winds as the depression develops. There is a general
translation of the system in addition to the development or deepening process as the winds
have a value roughly equal to geostrophic and the fronts are carried along with them. The
depression itself, traveling with the fronts, usually has a velocity roughly equal in speed and
direction to that of the geostrophic wind in the warm air].
Continuously falling pressure implies convergence into the depression so that air is
forced to rise.
Diagrams
Characteristics of Open Wave Depression
Size: Weather affecting order of 105 NM2
Time: Developing 2 days; Mature 1 day; Decaying 2-3 days
4
Speed of movement: Suggest 5 Vg (geostrophic speed) in warm sector. For example,
20-40 KT, occasionally 60 KT.
Direction of movement: Parallel to isobars in warm sector. It is also parallel to thick-
ness lines and lines joining maximum pressure falls and rises.
Separation: Next depression is not likely to develop closer than 700NM along polar front
Activity of Fronts Fronts shown with clouds extending to near the tropopause and
hence with much associated weather, are examples of active fronts - Ana fronts. This ac-
tivity is affected by motion in the warm air having an upward component. Weak fronts
are known as Kata fronts. In these cases the vertical motion in the warm air has a down-
ward component. Ana fronts may change to kata during the life time, a process known as
Frontolysis. Generally an active warm front is followed by a weak cold front and vice versa.

Table 10.1: Comparison between Frontogenesis and Frontolysis


Frontogenesis Frontolysis
Definition: Formation or increase in activity of fronts Decay or weakening of front
Effect: Cloud or rain belt increases in size Rain decreases or ceases, cloud break up
Cause: (a) Pressure falls on both sides of existing front, Pressure rises on both sides of front
(b) Converging wind fields especially over marked Diverging wind fields
surface temperature gradient e.g. ocean currents
Uplift over hills Lee effect of hills
10.2. THE OCCLUSION PROCESS 89

10.2 The Occlusion Process


An open wave depression continues to deepen for about forty-eight hours, during which
time the cold front moves faster than the warm. Thus the warm sector decreases in size
and the cold air lifts the warm air from off the surface. This process is called occlusion.
Both fronts combine as a single front and the cloud and weather appear as a warm front
closely followed by a cold front. The front formed in this way is called an occluded front.
As the occlusion occurs the front carries on moving but the surface depression slows
down and turns to the left. Sometimes a new depression, a secondary depression or triple point low
forms at the junction of the warm and cold front. That is, the point of occlusion or triple
point. This will be shown by large pressure falls ahead of the triple point.
Diagram
Two different kinds of occluded fronts are possible, because the cold air behind the cold
front has had a different life history from the cold air ahead of the warm front. If the air
behind the cold front is the colder of the two cold air masses, it will undercut the cold air
under the warm front and a cold occlusion is said to occur.
Diagram (a) Cold front occlusion (b) warm front occlusion
Front Genesis Frontolysis
Definition: Formation or increase in Decay or weakening of front Activity of front
Effect: Cloud or rain belt increases Rain decreases or ceases, cloud In size breaks up
Cause: Pressure falls on both sides Pressure rises on both sides of Of existing front front.
Converging wind fields Diverging wind fields Especially over marked surface Tempera-
ture gradient ocean currents
Uplift over hills Lee effect of hills
We associated with a Mature wave Depression (General distribution of Wx in a frontal
depression)
In areas away from the weather intimately associated with the fronts, the warm and
cold air masses display their own characteristic features. A distinction is therefore mode
between the frontal Wx and the air-mass Wx of a depression.
[With the approach of the warm front] Warm Sector: the cloudiness depends on the
general props of the air mass that occupies that region. (temperature, moisture and lapse
rate conditions) The air within the sector is typically Tm or Tc with appropriate variations
according to locality, season and time of day. Over the Atlantic and NW Europe the warm
air is typically Tm and widespread low st or sc with perhaps fog or drizzle are common, but
clear skies can occur when the humidity is comparatively low. When the air mass is Tc,
(for example with a Mediterranean depression clear skies would be the rule while even the
warm-front cloud and ppn may be unable to form because of the extreme dryness of the air
(isobars here are usually straight and parallel but not necessarily equally spaced). Pressure
falls slowly or remains steady depending on whether or not the depression is deepening.
The temperature, however, remains relatively high.
Cold Sector
90 CHAPTER 10. EXTRA-TROPICAL DEPRESSIONS

Conditions here are typical of a polar air mass (described earlier) but there are modifi-
cations because of the frontal developments. In the cold air in advance of the warm front
when the sky becomes covered with high and medium cloud, surface heating by the sun is
reduced and the diurnal cumulus type of cloud is either very restricted in the vertical because
of the shallow depth of cold air or does not form at all. There may also be some pre-frontal
subsidence of air, making lapse rate more stable than in a typical cold air mass. (The
clearance of low cumiliform clouds on the arrival of the high clouds of a new depression is
often very noticeable). In the cold air behind the cold front, subsidence often clears the sky
completely soon after the frontal rain has ceased ; there may then be an interval of clear
Wx lasting a few hours before he convection clouds and showers of the cold air begin to
appear.
Diagram:
[Wish the approach of a steep well-developed cold front]
We associated with occluded Fronts See Page 19/20
In both types of occlusions, a trough of warm air is pushed aloft from the warm sector.
Clouds and ppn may occur in this warm air, as the cold air squeezes it upward. In many
cases, interaction between the 2 cold surface air masses also produces clouds and ppn in
the lower levels accompanying the wind shift line. However, the actual type of Wx depends
on the structure and action of the occluded front. Some of the characteristics of both cold
and warm front may often be present, but the sequence of events is more complex than
before occlusion. As the occlusion process continues, the warm sector is displaced more and
more draft. The cyclone eventually becomes completely surrounded by cold air in the low
levels. By the time this occurs, the air masses become completely modified or mixed. The
depression then decreases in intensity, until it dies out completely.
Occluded Depression
The depression usually continues to deepen until an advanced stage in the occluding
process is reached. By then the supply of warm air has been cut off and the depth of
the depression subsequently changes little. At the same time the centre, previously carried
along with the warm air, becomes almost stationary. ( The last stage in the life of a
normal frontal depression is thus a stationary or slowly moving system of circulating polar
air.) This decaying depression fills up very slowly and is often very persistent unless the
circulation is destroyed by the approach of a new vigorous depression, in which case an old
and deep occluded centre may fill up completely within 24 hours. During the occluding and
decaying stages, the Wx usually tends to improve slowly. The frontal cloud and rain become
gradually less extensive but instability cloud and showers may become more general, their
intensity and extent varying with the characteristics of the cold air and the thermal and
dynamical processes to which it is subjected. Hence the Wx in old depressions ranges from
conditions of little cloud to widespread convective cloud with showers and thunderstorms.
During the decay of the depression the winds decline slowly and clearing skies over the land
at night may permit radiation fog to develop.
Families of frontal Depressions
10.2. THE OCCLUSION PROCESS 91

Figure 10.1: Cold occlusion (source:http://www.atmos.uiuc.edu/


snodgrss/Fronts lab.html)
92 CHAPTER 10. EXTRA-TROPICAL DEPRESSIONS

The development of a frontal depression occurs as a rule on a long slowly moving


front between polar and tropical air in temperate latitudes. When one depression develops,
moves along at the front and finally becomes occluded, the cold front trials back from the
point of occlusion and remains continuous with the more or less undisturbed front behind.
Conditions may then be favourable for a new development passing through the same stages
arid in this way there forms a series or family of depressions. As each occludes in turn the
cold air spreads round it and penetrates to lower latitudes so that each successive depression
tends to follow a more southerly track until at last the cold air sweeps through and goes to
feed the trade winds of lower latitudes. By this time the polar front has been displaced far
to the south of its normal position and a large anticyclone builds up in the polar air, so
breaking the continuity of the front and terminating the family. Meanwhile a new family
starts to form on the north-west side of the anticyclone and as the letter drifts away south-
eastwards the whole process may be repeated. There is no regularity about the number of
individual depressions in a family but there are often 3,4 or 5. the Wx changes associated
with the passage of the depressions, alternate with brief fine periods in the high pressure
ridges dividing them. (And are typical of unsettled conditions in the British Isles.)

10.3 Non frontal depressions


Most depressions of temperate latitudes form on the polar front, and for this reason empha-
sis has been placed in the foregoing paragraphs on the formation of these frontal depressions.
Depressions exist, which are not connected with frontal zones (even in temperate regions)
(i) Thermal depressions, associated with surface heating or vertical instability. (ii) Depres-
sions due to topography (lee depressions) that is Orographic depressions which form in the
lee of mountain ranges.
Thermal Depressions
The formation of thermal depressions is due to unequal heating of adjacent surface
areas, and land and sea distribution plays a big part in determining their location. Owing
mainly to the distribution of land and sea the surface layers of the atmosphere are subject
to unequal heating and there is a tendency for the warmer regions to become areas of low
pressure. [This comes about as follows. As the air is heated it expands and the overlaying
isobaric surfaces are lifted. At any given upper level, the pressure becomes higher than over
the surrounding parts with the result that the air starts to move outwards. This in turn
reduces the surface pressure and an inflow takes place at low levels which under the influence
of the geostrophic force is converted into a cyclonic circulation. Since the higher pressure
and outflow aloft imply an anticyclonic circulation at high levels, the thermal depression
or heat low weakens with height the cyclonic winds decrease and are often reversed in the
upper atmosphere.
Due to Vertical Instability
Thermal instability in the vertical plays an important part in the development of many
10.3. NON FRONTAL DEPRESSIONS 93

types of depressions. In the description above, the low pressure is accounted for by the
difference in temperature between the heated air and its surroundings. Assuming a stable
temperature lapse rate, these depressions are usually rather shallow and of little significance.
If, however the lapse rate should increase to a point where it exceeds the limit of stability
(that is if lapse rate is unstable or becomes so as a result of continued heating so that
instability showers breakout then there is an increased likelihood of a fall in surface pressure
and dev. Of a depression) a deeper and more serious depression may result. Especially if
the air becomes saturated, the liberation of latent heat of condensation of water vapor will
contribute to the process of convection (by providing additional energy) which, if it becomes
widespread, may lead to the development of a vigorous depression.
Types of Thermal Low
The temperature of inland waters in early winter is relatively high compared with the
air temperature over the surrounding land. In consequence, when a fresh outbreak of polar
air spreads over such waters, the air often becomes unstable and a local depression results
e.g.. Over Great Lakes of North America, and over the northern Mediterranean and the
Black Sea. Depressions give local showers and squalls- winds circulate in ordinary cyclonic
manner but there are often large deviations caused by orographic and Katabatic effects on
the coasts; local gales and calms are typical of the coastal areas in the conditions. When the
pressure gradient is slight, surface heating over land in summer may lead to the formation
of shallow depressions sometimes these are of little significance but when associated with
vertical instability or with pre-existing fronts they may result in deteriorations such as
squalls, widespread rain or outbreaks of TS. (Central and Western Europe).
Monsoon Low
Tends to develop over a large continent in summer; the South Asiatic monsoon low
which controls the general circulation over that area is the outstanding one. The weather
in a monsoon low does not follow any regular pattern being very dependent on topography
and on the characteristics of the air masses which are drawn into the area of the depression.
Equatorial Low-Pressure Belt
This may be regarded as a permanent heat low encircling the earth in tropical latitudes.
The lapse rate is generally steep and there is heavy showery precipitation.
Orographic Depressions
Cause: Wind blowing across mountain range creates low pressure area on the lee side,
often a trough, sometimes a circulation.
Diagram:
Weather:
This pure orographic low is a shallow feature and has little or no associated weather,
but topography may intensify frontal weather and create low.
Eg. South Greenland N.B. Lows of this type prefer to move around high ground rather
than over it. Example: Genoa low.
Check:
94 CHAPTER 10. EXTRA-TROPICAL DEPRESSIONS

1. Depressions which act as secondaries to already existing depressions 2. tropical


revolving storms 3. tornadoes and waterspouts and 4. trough of low pressure.
Chapter 11

Principal Isobaric System

The topics include types, weather associated with systems, diagrams,etc

11.1 Pressure Pattern


In meteorology, the general geometric characteristics of atmospheric pressure distribution
as revealed by isobars on a constant-height chart; usually applied to cyclonic-scale features
of a surface chart.

11.2 High or Anticyclone


In meteorology, an area of high pressure, referring to a maximum of atmospheric pressure
in two dimensions (a system of closed isobars, generally approximately circular or oval in
form, enclosing the high pressure) in the synoptic surface chart, or a maximum of height
(closed contours) in the constant-pressure chart. Since a high is, on the synoptic chart,
always associated with anticyclonic circulation (i.e clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere
and anti clockwise in the Southern hemisphere), the term is used interchangeably with
anticyclone.
The weather associated with the anticyclone is generally quiet and settled.

11.3 Low or Cyclone


A low is sometimes called a depression. In meteorology, an area of low pressure, referring
to a minimum of atmospheric pressure in two dimensions (a system of closed isobars,
generally approximately circular or oval in form, enclosing a central low pressure) on a
constant-height chart or a minimum of height (closed contours) on a constant-pressure
chart. Since a low is, on a synoptic chart, always associated with cyclonic circulation (i.e.
anticlockwise in the northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the southern Hemisphere), the

95
96 CHAPTER 11. PRINCIPAL ISOBARIC SYSTEM

term is used interchangeably with cyclone. A cyclone of middle and high latitudes is called
a depression. A tropical cyclone of moderate intensity is a tropical storm: if of great
intensity, a tropical cyclone in the Indian Ocean, Arabian sea or Bay of bengal is termed a
cyclone, in the western Pacific a typhoon, in western Australia a willy-willy, in most
other tropical latitudes a hurricane.
The associated weather is unsettled, often with much precipitation and strong winds or
gales.

11.4 Ridge
1. The ridge is sometimes called wedge. In meteorology, an elongated area of relatively
high atmospheric pressure, almost always associated with and most clearly identified
as an area of maximum anticyclonic curvature of wind flow. The locus of this max-
imum curvature is called the ridge line. Sometimes, particularly in discussions of
atmospheric waves embedded in the westerlies, a ridge line is considered to be a line
drawn through all points at which the anticyclonically curved isobars or contour lines
are tangent to a latitude circle. The most common use of this term is to distinguish
it from the closed circulation of a high (or anticyclone); but a ridge may include a
high (and an upper-air ridge may be associated with a surface high) and a high may
have one or more distinct ridges radiating from its center. The opposite of a ridge is
a trough.
A ridge in which maximum curvature of isobars along the ridge line (or axis of the
ridge) is relatively small is termed a flat ridge and tends to be a faster-moving
isobaric feature than one in which the curvature is great.
A ridge is associated with fair, anticyclonic type weather.

2. The term ridge is also used as reference to other meteorological quantities such as
equivalent potential temperature, temperature, and mixing ratio. That is, an elongated
area of relatively high values of any particular field emanating from a maximum.

3. In oceanography, a linear accumulation of broken ice blocks projecting upward, formed


by ice deformation, often at the edge of a floe. A ridge is distinguished from a
hummock by being much longer than it is wide. The term ridge is often used to
describe an entire ridged ice feature, in which case the portion above the water line
is termed the sail and the portion below the water line is termed the keel.

11.5 Trough
In meteorology, an elongated area of relatively low atmospheric pressure; the opposite of a
ridge. The axis of a trough is the trough line. This term is commonly used to distinguish
11.6. COL 97

the previous condition from the closed circulation of a low (or cyclone), but a large-scale
trough may include one or more lows, an upper-air trough may be associated with a lower-
level low, and a low may have one or more distinct troughs radiating from it. The trough
is said to be deep, or shallow, according as the maximum curvature of the isobars along
the trough line is great or small respectively.

11.6 Col
This is also called saddle point or neutral point. In meteorology, the point of intersection of
a trough and a ridge in the pressure pattern of a weather map. It is the point of relatively
lowest pressure between two highs and the point of relatively highest pressure between two
lows.
In short, a col is the indefinite isobar configuration between two highs and two lows
arranged alternately, and has no particular type of weather associated with it other than
light winds. See figure 11.1 for an illustration of the pressure systems.

Figure 11.1: An illustration of the principal Isobaric patterns


98 CHAPTER 11. PRINCIPAL ISOBARIC SYSTEM
Chapter 12

Tropical Revolving Storms

The topics include definition, African easterly waves, tropical cyclone development, struc-
ture, evidence of its presence, location and season for storms, nomenclature, SOLAS reg-
ulations, Masters action, plotting the storm, avoiding action, precautions, etc
There is a distinction between a tropical depression (winds of beaufort force less than
6), a tropical storm (force 6 to 11) and depending on locality, a cyclone, hurricane
or typhoon (force 12 or greater). The word storm is commonly used for any violent
atmospheric phenomenon, such as a gale, thunderstorm, squall line, rainstorm, dust storm,
snow storm. In Synoptic meteorology, it is applied to an active centre of low pressure with
which are associated gales, precipitation, etc.
The more intense tropical cyclones are confined to fairly specific regions and seasons
which, broadly speaking, are the western sides of the great tropical oceans beyond 5o from
the equator, towards the end of the hot season or seasons. More specifically, the main
oceanic regions and times are shown in table 12.1.

Table 12.1: Table showing storm location, season and names


Ocean Storm location Season Name
North Atlantic West Indies July to October Hurricane
North Pacific Off West coast of Mexico, July to October
westwards of 170o E (China Seas)
South Indian Madagascar to 90o E, December to March
near north-west Australia
South Pacific 150o E eastwards to 140o W December to March
Bay of Bengal April to June
Arabian Sea September to December

The centre pressure of the more intense tropical cyclones is often about 960mb and
pressure at the periphery about 1020 mb. These values are comparable to those of mid-

99
100 CHAPTER 12. TROPICAL REVOLVING STORMS

latitude depression but the tropical storm diameter is much smaller (500 miles compared to
1500 miles) and pressure gradients and winds are correspondingly greater. Very low surface
pressures are sometimes attained. Pressure tendencies are very large near the centre of an
intense tropical cyclone.
A tropical cyclone generally moves initially towards west or north-west in the northern
Hemisphere and towards west or south-west in the Southern Hemisphere: the speed is
generally about 10 kts. Recurvature of the cyclone, (i.e. change of path direction towards
N-E in the northern Hemisphere and towards S-E in the Southern Hemisphere) sometimes
occurs at about latitudes 20 to 30o . After recurvature, the cyclone tends to assume the
characteristics of a mid-latitude depression.
Apart from the central eye region, some 10 miles in diameter, heavy and continuous
rain and multi-layer cloud occupy the central regions of the cyclone, with more showery
precipitation towards the edges. Decay of a cyclone is generally rapid after passage inland.
A sufficient supply of real and latent heat (sea surface temperature of at least 27o C or
80o F) at a distance from the equator (at least some 5o latitude) sufficient for the Coriolis
force to be active are necessary conditions for the formation of a tropical storm. [The
precise mechanism which cause shallow tropical cyclones to form, or having formed, to
intensify to a tropical storm or hurricane are yet uncertain].
Tropical storms are typically a phenomenon of the summer and autumn months - June
to October in the northern Hemisphere and December to April in the southern Hemisphere.
They usually reach their maximum frequency in August and September or January and
February according to the Hemisphere, although in this respect the Bay of Bengal and the
Arabian Sea are anomalous, the storms being there more common with the advancing and
retreating monsoon than at its height.
These storms most frequently originate near the inter-tropical front and appear to result
from the marked instability which is often characteristic of this region. Much of the energy
is derived from the latent heat set free by condensation of water vapor; The storms occur
mainly over the western parts of the tropical oceans where the trade winds have had a long
passage over the sea, and often in areas where the air on the equator-ward side of the inter-
tropical front has crossed over from the other hemisphere and has become almost saturated.
[Once a storm has formed, the circulatory velocity is so great that no frontal structure can
persist and it becomes an almost symmetrical circular depression. The mechanism by which
the energy of latent heat released by condensation is converted to intense circulatory motion
appear to be mainly that for thermal depressions but it cannot be claimed that the process
is as yet fully understood.]
Factors
One factor contributing to the intensity of the storm is the high humidity and degree of
instability present before hand. Another factor is the latitude, since for a given pressure
gradient the strength of the associated winds increases as the equator is approached. How-
ever, no storms are found within 5o of the equator (this is because the coriolis force there
is too small to produce any circulation).
101

Over land, tropical cyclones do not form even when conditions are extremely unstable.
It seems that most of the inflow to a storm takes place near the bottom and that the amount
of water vapor so taken in over the land is likely to be less than over the sea where the air
currents are very moist. Possibly an additional factor is the increased surface friction over
the land; (reduces speed as well as water vapor).
Premonitory indications (both on ground and aloft) include:
Ocean Swells: The strong winds of a cyclone often set up a heavy swell which spreads
out far from the storm centre. This should serve as a warning but its absence should not
be taken to indicate no storm exists in the area).
Surface Pressure: The characteristic diurnal variation of pressure in the tropics shows
up clearly on a station or ships barograph as a double wave with maxima at 1000 and 2200
local time and minima at 0400 and 1600. Any tendency to a general fall of pressure, or
even a departure from the regular oscillation, should be looked on as a likely indication of
an approaching or developing storm.
Wind: Since a cyclone develops in a region where winds are light, any marked in-
crease of wind may be taken as a reliable warning, while the direction of the centre may be
inferred from that of the wind by the usual rule. If a cyclonic circulation of strong winds is
observed, then the existence of a cyclone is certainly established even though its subsequent
intensification remains uncertain.
Use of altimeters: The pressure altimeter is of little use in maintaining constant
altitude in the neighborhood of a cyclone because the rapid fall of pressure towards the centre
causes serious over-reading. However, if the pressure altimeter is used in conjunction with
the radio altimeter, it is possible to find out whether the aircraft is moving towards or away
from the centre since both the pressure at a given height, and the height at a given pressure
altitude, decrease towards the centre. This decrease is gradual in the outer parts of the
storm but becomes more rapid as the centre is approached.
Cloud and precipitation: The instability conditions usually associated with the inter-
tropical front become intensified in the earliest stage of the development of a cyclone, when
compact masses of convective clouds are present with heavy showers and thunderstorm.
After the cyclonic circulation has started, the cloud formations tend to become arranged
in bands along the wind or more or less concentric with the centre but spiraling inwards
so that the central area of the storm (outside the eye) forms an extensive unbroken cloud
mass. Subsidence takes place between these cloud bands in the outer part of the storm, as
well as in the eye. The vertical extent of the clouds appears to be greater over the inner
core of the storm - apart from the eye, which may be cloudless - and commonly reaches
to cirrus levels. If flight is above cloud, the approach to a storm may be indicated only by
thick bands of cirrus, but while the existence of a storm may on occasions be revealed by the
upper or lower cloud formations, these are apt to be misleading as a guide to the position of
the centre. The cloud base is often about 1000 ft and occasionally on the surface in heavy
rain. Visibility below the cloud base is poor in strong winds on account of spray.
Use of radar (airborne): This is valuable especially at night when visual indications
102 CHAPTER 12. TROPICAL REVOLVING STORMS

are lacking. The spiraling cloud system can be easily recognized on the radar screen at
distances of some 30 to 40 miles and the position of the eye accurately fixed. A disadvantage
is that this method gives little or no indication of the intensity of the storm.
Turbulence: Two kinds of turbulence are important in this case; (1) Severe turbulence
is present in the active convective clouds within the storm and in low-level flight can be
avoided by flying below the clouds, (2) Frictional turbulence is generated in the lowest
layers by strong winds (Increases in intensity with the strength of the winds become severe
when the wind exceeds 50 kts and dangerous when it exceeds 80 kts).
Low-level frictional turbulence can best be avoided by increasing the flight altitude to
about 5000 ft (possibly without entering the clouds). Strong, large-scale, updrafts and down-
drafts may also be encountered in various parts of the storm.
Vertical Extent: When a new cyclone forms, (first in the lowest layers) the height
affected increases rapidly during the first day or two, (sometimes reaching 30,000 ft and
possibly exceeding 50,000 ft). [Most of the penetrations made by reconnaissance aircraft
have taken place at about 1500 ft since accurate navigation requires the sea to be kept in
view most of the time so that the wind may be determined at frequent intervals]. If a flight
is continuously in cloud, navigation becomes uncertain because of the absence of precise
wind information. The greatest danger in flying blind through these storms lies in getting
lost because of a combination of the strong variable winds and a failure - due to static
of radio aids. [It can not be said what height would be necessary to ascend in order to fly
above the weather, but the minimum safe height no doubt tends to increase with the age
of the storm (skc 10,000 ft is exceptional)].
Avoidance of a storm when in flight

12.1 Common terms associated with TRS


Path The dirxn in which the storm is moving

Track - The area which the storm centre has traversed

Storm Field - The horizontal area covered by the cyclonic conditions of the storm

Source Region - The Region where the storm first forms

Vertex Cod - The furthest westerly point reached by the storm centre

Eye of the Storm - The Storm Centre

Bar of the Storm - The advancing edge of the storm field

Angle of indraught - The angle which the wind makes with isobars

Vortex - The central calm of the storm


12.1. COMMON TERMS ASSOCIATED WITH TRS 103

Dangerous Semi-Circle - The half of the storm which lies to the right of the path in
the Northern Hemisphere and the left of the path in the Southern Hemisphere

Dangerous Quadrant - The leading portion of the dangerous semi-circle where the
winds blow towards the path.

Navigable Semi-Circle - the half of the storm which lies to the left of the path in the
Northern Hemisphere and to the right of the path in the Southern Hemisphere.

Trough line - A line through the centre of the storm at right angles to the path. The
dividing line between falling and rising pressure.

Diagram
104 CHAPTER 12. TROPICAL REVOLVING STORMS
Chapter 13

Ice

The freezing temperature of sea water with the normal 3.5% of salt, is approximately, -
1.8 C. Sea ice forms in early winter, thickens throughout the winter months, and thaws in
spring and summer. There are areas where ice survives all year round.

13.1 Main types of ice and their origins (Classification of


ice)
Sea Ice is formed by the freezing of sea water. The rate at which ice thickens depends on
(i) the difference of air temperature below the freezing point (DT), and the duration of such
conditions (t). Thus, the depth of first-year ice (D) is proportional
R to the time integral
starting at the beginning of the cold season. That is, D DT.t
For example, the thickening during four days each with an air temperature averaging
-2.8 C is roughly the same as that during one day at -5.8 C. Note that 2.8 (1.8) = 1.0
multiplied by the four days gives 4.0. Also, 5.8 (1.8) = 4.0 multiplied by the one
day gives 4.0. So long as the maximum
R temperature remains below -1.8 C, the daily-mean
temperature Tm can be used and the DT.dt can be simplified to a summation DTm for
all days of the season, and the result is known as the number of freezing degree-days.
Thus, the freezing degree-days is a measure of how cold it has been and how long it has
been cold. Sea ice contains about a tenth of the amount of salt that sea water has. The
fraction is less if freezing is slow. The salt migrates out of the ice when it melts. Large
areas of sea ice exists around Antarctica and the Arctic.
It is worth-noting that, the strength of the ice depends on temperature during formation.
Young ice formed at higher temperatures is weaker than that formed at lower temperatures
(This appears to be in contrast to one geophysical argument for sea ice strength. Argument
involves Brine volume). Changes in atmospheric circulation and increased surface air
temperature has been observed with the decline of sea ice. This warming trend will lead to
a diminished arctic sea-ice cover. Diminution of ice cover will greatly impact regional and

105
106 CHAPTER 13. ICE

global climate. Less ice cover will affect the socio-economic and ecosystems in the north
polar region. The continuing loss of Arctic sea ice will lead to less heat being reflected
into space. This could lead to faster warming and a greater loss of arctic ice ( a positive
feedback). Note that both sea ice and glacier ice cool the Earth by reflecting solar radiation.
Sea ice conditions are reported with reference to the date, time, and geographical position
of the observer and the particular perspective, or field of view. The field of view from an
airplane is very different from the field of view from the bridge of a ship or from the
shoreline. There are separate forms for reporting sea ice and glacier ice.
Icebergs and River ice are formed from fresh water

Table 13.1: Comparison between Iceberg and River Ice


Icebergs River ice
Serious hazard to navigation around Sometimes encountered in harbours
Antarctica and some parts of N/Hemisphere and offshore close
(notably eastern seaboard of Canada) to estuaries during the spring break up
Generally presents only a temporary
hindrance to shipping (as it is then in
a state of decay)

The temperature of the sea will vary from almost 32o C(90o F) in the equatorial regions
to -2o C (28 1/2oF) at the edge of the ice in the polar regions If the temperature of the water
is -2o C for a considerable depth ice will start to form at the surface. Navigation will not be
impaired by thin ice, but unless specially strengthened for navigation in ice, a ship should
not be forced through the thicker ice. However, in many areas where this occurs, ice breaker
assistance is available. Attention must be paid to broadcast warnings of ice conditions.

Sludge or Slush The initial stages in the freezing of sea water, when its consistency
is gluey or soapy.

Brash - Small fragments and rounded nodules; the wreckage of other forms of ice.

Pancake ice - Small pieces of new ice, approximately circular and with raised rims.

Young ice - Newly formed ice

Bay ice The young ice which first forms on the sea in autumn, and is of sufficient
thickness to impede or prevent navigation.

Pack ice - Term used in a wide sense to include any area of sea ice, other than fast
ice, no matter what form it takes or how disposed.

Floe - An area of ice, other than fast ice, whose limits are within sight.
13.2. COASTAL AND OPEN OCEAN VISIBILITY 107

Field ice - Area of pack ice of such extent that its limits cannot be seen from the
masthead.

Level ice - an unhummocked ice, no matter of what age or thickness.

Hummock - A ridge or elevation on a floe due to pressure

Pressure Ridge - Hummocked ice where floe have been pressed together and broken
against each other

Bergy-Bits - Medium sized pieces of glacier ice, or of hummocky pack, washed clear
of snow. Typical bergy-bits have been described as about the size of a cottage.

Growlers Smaller pieces of ice than bergy-bits, appearing greenish in colour, because
barely showing above water.

Rotten ice Floes which have become much honey combed in the process of melting.

Fast ice Sea ice which remains fast in the position of growth throughout the winter,
and sometimes even during the ensuing summer.

Land ice Ice attached to the shore, within which there is no channel.

Iceberg - Large masses of land ice which become detached are known as ICEBERGS.

13.2 Coastal and Open Ocean Visibility


Visibility is affected by sea or river fog.

13.3 Probable indication

13.4 Precautions; Navigating in ice


Vessels navigating in areas where icebergs may be encountered. Should go at a moderate
speed keeping a good lookout and extra special care must be taken if in fog. The lanes and
leads should be followed if navigating through pack ice. The leads may show as dark lines or
patches on the ice blink. The greatest care must be exercised to prevent the vessel becoming
nipped in the ice. This may occur if the ice is hummocking, and no attempt should be made
to enter or cross ice which is forming these pressure ridges. If collision with a berg cannot
be avoided then every endeavour should made to collide with it head on.
108 CHAPTER 13. ICE
Chapter 14

Ice Accretion

The topics include hazards, nature of icing at sea, etc

14.1 Hazards

14.2 Nature of Icing at sea

109
110 CHAPTER 14. ICE ACCRETION
Chapter 15

Ocean Currents

Ocean current is general movement of a permanent or semi-permanent nature, of the sur-


face water of the ocean. It is a continuous, directed movement of ocean water generated by
the forces acting upon the water, such as the Earths rotation, wind, temperature, salinity
differences and tides caused by the gravitational pull of the Moon and the Sun.
The term must not be used of tidal streams, which change direction and speed hour by
hour. A drift current is a drift of the surface water which is dragged along by a wind
blowing over it. A drift current which is deflected by an obstruction, such as a shoal or
land, forms a stream Current. A stream current may be formed as a counter current to
a primary current, replacing the water displaced by the primary current. The set of a
current or tidal stream is the direction in which it is going. Owing to the high specific heat
of water, the main ocean currents are of great climatic importance. Ocean currents result
from several causes, the most important being wind and differences of density resulting from
differences of temperature and salinity.
Counter Current: On either side of the equator, in all ocean basins, there are two
west flowing currents: the North and South Equatorial. These currents flow between 3 and
6 kilometers per day and usually extend 100 to 200 meters in depth below the ocean surface.
The Equatorial Counter Current, which flows towards the east, is a partial return of water
carried westward by the North and South Equatorial.
Undercurrent: An undercurrent is a type of current which runs below the surface of
air or water currents. The direction of an undercurrent is typically opposite that of surface
currents, and the strength of the undercurrent varies, depending on the situation and the
circumstances.
Notes about ocean currents

They affect climate only if they bring relatively warm or cold water to the area under
consideration

Most currents are caused, at least in part, by the prevailing winds. There is a close

111
112 CHAPTER 15. OCEAN CURRENTS

association between the principal currents and winds near the subtropical highs (e.g.
).

Near the land on the eastern sides of the highs is a current setting towards the equator,
carrying water from a higher latitude where temperatures are lower. For example,
Peru (off the coast of South America) and Benguela currents (off South West Africa).
Other examples are the Canaries and California currents in the northern Hemisphere.

On the western sides of the highs there is a noticeable drift of warm water away from
the equator, e.g Brazil and Mozambique currents off the east coasts of South America
and South Africa respectively, and the Gulf Stream and Japan Current (or Kuro shio)
off the same coasts of North America and Asia.

Cold Currents are associated with fog and low stratus cloud when the wind blows from
off the sea and especially if it is a Tm air mass.

While warm currents are associated with much convection, large cumulus clouds,
squalls and showers when polar air blows over them

Cold currents in higher latitudes (such as the Kamchatka and Labrador Currents) are
also instrumental in transporting and maintaining ice in comparatively low latitudes
(an additional significance).

Summary of Currents
There is an almost complete circulation round the subtropical highs

a cold current on the eastern margin near the coast

a warm current on the eastern margin near the coast

a westerly setting current on the equatorial side (which is known as the North or South
Equatorial Current depending upon the hemisphere to which it owes its existence)

an easterly setting current on the polar side

Between the north and south Equatorial Currents there is a very noticeable easterly
setting current known as the Equatorial Counter Current [In the north Atlantic the
counter current is only well marked in a few months during the northern summer in
the eastern half of the ocean. The Guinea Current, which might be thought to be an
extension of the counter Current, is nearly always well marked]

A large quantity of water (North Atlantic) enters the North Polar Sea past the coast of
Norway, and this inflow together with a much smaller one through the Bering Strait
and a small accumulation due to outflow from rivers and from rainfall, is balanced by
113

outflows along the east coast of Greenland, Davis Strait and bering Strait [Since cur-
rents, like winds, are deflected to the right in the northern hemisphere]. These three
outflow cling to the eastern shores of the lands past which they flow [The Kamchatka
Current becomes known as the Oya Siwo when nearing Japan, and the Davis Strait
Current as the Labrador Current when off that country and off Newfoundland.

There is usually a current setting out of the Kattegat because of the relatively large
amount of fresh water received from rivers and rainfall, and evaporation is similar:
the Baltic Sea has therefore a low salinity, i.e. the water is nearly fresh.

In the Mediterranean, where more water flows in than out owing largely to evaporation
and few rivers, the current flows anti clockwise, (eastwards along the N. African Coast
and Westward along the northern shores) but it is usually very weak east of about
longitude 10oE, and seldom strong (more than 1 Knot) other than in the approaches
to the straits of Gibraltar.

The Gulf Stream (which is not felt within 50 miles or so of the eastern states of U.S.A)
is particularly strong because not only does the North Equatorial Current flow into the
Gulf of Mexico, but the shape of South American Coast is partly responsible for some
of the South Equatorial Current being deflected northwestward into the Gulf; added
to these effects is the drift caused by the constant east-north-easterly trade wind in
the West Indies and Caribbean sea area. During the season of part of the South-west
monsoon (June to mid-September) in the Arabian Sea, the current off the Coast of
Somali land (especially between Mogadishu and the 10th parallel) is sometimes very
strong (5 kts or more).

A branch of the Kuro ship of Japan Current flows up the west of Taiwan and up
the west coast of Japan, where it becomes the Tsushima Current, with 2 interesting
results in winter and spring. The water is abnormally cold close to the coast of the
mainland in both instances, and with tropical air visibility is bad near the mainland
but good over the warm water near the islands; furthermore, ice encroaches along the
Asiatic Coast of the Sea of Japan (late Dec. to April).

Falklands Current Coming from the South, it brings cold water nearly as far as the
approaches to the River Plate and fog is the rule when the wind brings air from a
warm and damp source. The axis of this current is often shown on maps as passing
up the coast of Argentina to the westward of the Falkland Islands, but sea surface
temperatures indicate a probability that for most of the year it is more marked to
the eastward of the islands, setting almost due north. The reason for this current
is possibly due to the deflection of the general easterly drift south of Cape Horn by
submarine ridge.
114 CHAPTER 15. OCEAN CURRENTS

15.1 Surface water circulation of the ocean and principal


adjoining sea

15.2 Upwelling, Tides and Storm Surges

15.3 Principal Warm Currents


Gulf Stream

Kueo Shio

Brazil Current

Mozambique Current

Agulhas Current

East Australian Coast Current

15.4 Principal Cold Currents


Labrador Current

East Greenland Current

California Current

Kamchatka Current

Oya Shio

Falkland Current

Peru Current

Benguela Current
Chapter 16

The characteristics of ocean waves

Most ocean waves are produced by the action of the winds. The stronger the winds and the
longer it blows, the larger do the waves become. Frequently, so much energy is transferred
to water that the ocean waves continue to travel many hundreds of kilometers, even after
the winds have stopped. Waves may therefore be seen on a calm day.
A system of waves produced by the local wind blowing at the time of the observation is
referred to as a Sea wave.
A wave system which has not been generated by the local wind system blowing at obser-
vation time is called a swell. It may be produced either by winds blowing in another region
or by winds that have ceased to blow.

Wavelength (L) - the horizontal distance between successive crests (or troughs).

Wave height (H) - the vertical distance between the top of a crest and the bottom
of a trough.

Wave Speed (C) - the distance travelled by a wave in unit time

Period(T) , expressed in seconds, is the time interval between the passage of succes-
sive crests (or troughs) past a given point.

Frequency (n) - the number of crests (or troughs) passing a given point in unit time.

115
116 CHAPTER 16. THE CHARACTERISTICS OF OCEAN WAVES
Chapter 17

Weather Hazards

117
118 CHAPTER 17. WEATHER HAZARDS
Chapter 18

Weather Services for Shipping

The topics include organization of WMO, functions of WMO, sources of weather infor-
mation between merchant ships and meteorological officers, weather bulletins and contents,
storm warnings
The World Meteorological organization (WMO), a specialized agency of the United Na-
tions, is the authoritative voice on the state and behaviour of the Earths atmosphere, its
interaction with the oceans, the climate it produces and the resulting distribution of water
resources. It is an intergovernmental organization of 188 members (as at January 2007).
It was born out of the International Meteorological Organization which was founded in
1873. The WMO was established in 1950 but became the specialized agency of the United
Nations in 1951 for meteorology (weather and climate), operational hydrology and related
geophysical sciences.
The vision of WMO is to contribute to the safety and well-being of people throughout
the world and to contribute to the economic benefit of all nations through the provision of
global leadership in expertise and international cooperation in weather, climate, hydrology
and water resources and related environmental issues.
The mission of WMO is to:
Facilitate worldwide cooperation in the establishment of networks of stations for the
making of meteorological observations as well as hydrological and other geophysical
observations related to meteorology, and to promote the establishment and mainte-
nance of centres charged with the provision of meteorological and related services;
Promote the establishment and maintenance of systems for the rapid exchange of
meteorological and related information;
Promote standardization of meteorological and related observations and to ensure the
uniform publication of observations and statistics;
Further the application of meteorology to aviation, shipping, water problems, agricul-
ture and other human activities;

119
120 CHAPTER 18. WEATHER SERVICES FOR SHIPPING

Promote activities in operational hydrology and to further close cooperation between


Meteorological and Hydrological Services;
Encourage research and training in meteorology and, as appropriate, in related fields,
and to assist in coordinating the international aspects of such research and training
(http://www.wmo.ch/pages/about/mission en.html
The WMO themes are;
Weather
Climate
Water
Oceans
Environment
Natural hazards
Socio-economic benefits
Observations
Research
Information management
Capacity-building
Least Developed Countries
Gender
The Marine Meteorology and Oceanography Programme (MMOP) of WMO aims at
the provision of quality meteorological forecast and warning services in support of life at
sea. That is, MMOP provides marine meteorological and oceanic services to meet the
requirements of marine users.
Continue with the oceans (and weather observations at sea).

18.1 The Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS)


GOOS which is co-sponsored by WMO, is a global system for observations, modeling and
analysis of marine and ocean variables to support operational ocean services worldwide. It
provides descriptions of the present state of the oceans, continuous forecasts of the future
conditions of the sea for as far ahead as possible, and the basis for projections of climate
change.
Chapter 19

Weather Forecasting

The topics include single station forecast, meteorological codes, interpretation of symbols
and isobaric patterns, prognostic and synoptic charts

19.1 Forecasting Sources

The seafarer can indirectly influence the circumstances arising from the atmospheric and
sea conditions affecting his vessel. This can be done through careful evaluation and applica-
tion of forecast data both in pre-passage planning and on passage. The success or otherwise
of the evaluation and application depends upon the amount and quality of data available.

19.1.1 Single Observer Forecasting

Observation and Analysis

Whether on passage or in port the seafarer can directly monitor his environment to a greater
or lesser degree, depending upon the range of facilities and the time available. By analyzing
a comprehensive series of observation (see table 20.1 below), trends can be established,
from which the recent history of the atmosphere and sea conditions can be determined. For
example, pressure tendency, not necessarily restricted to the standard three hours preceding
the time of observations, can be assessed from the barogram, or established to the nearest
hPa by frequent reading of the simple aneroid barometer. Trends can also be assessed of the
visibility range, cloud amount, and sequence of cloud type. The value of visibility trends
are enhanced when related to the pressure and intensity of precipitation, mist, fog, haze or
sea state. The tendency of the wind to back or veer, and the speed to increase or decrease
can be determined, and the characteristics of swell are also worth noting.

121
122 CHAPTER 19. WEATHER FORECASTING

Forecast
The analysis of the data in the table indicates the advance of a frontal depression, and the
bearing of the centre can be determined by applying Buys Ballots Law. Thus, conditions
likely to be encountered will be those associated with the passage of such a depression.
Once a short term forecast is made, the monitoring process should be continued to verify or
modify the forecast at frequent intervals, as the conclusions reached will be important for a
safe passage.
The above procedure has inherent limitations, as it assumes that the particular pressure
system inferred from the observation will result in the same meteorological conditions on
every occasion. Variations may occur and knowledge of the seafarer, who may have great
experience of the area, will be valuable in the analysis and forecast procedure.

Ship Routing Service


19.1. FORECASTING SOURCES 123

Figure 19.1: U.K. Met. Office Synoptic chart showing the present synoptic situation
124 CHAPTER 19. WEATHER FORECASTING

Figure 19.2: U.K. Met. Office Synoptic chart showing the forecast synoptic situation
forty-eight hours ahead
Chapter 20

Maritime related issues

20.1 International Maritime Organization (IMO) and IUCN?

20.2 Some news

20.3 Revised MARPOL Annex VI and NOx Technical Code


published by IMO
A new publication is now available from IMO Publications on the revised international
regulations on preventing and reducing harmful emissions from ships, such as sulphur oxides
(SOx) nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter.
The revised MARPOL Annex VI (Regulations for the Prevention of Air Pollution from
Ships) and the revised NOx Technical Code 2008 were adopted by IMOs Marine Envi-
ronment Protection Committee in October 2008, with an entry into force date of 1 July
2010.
The Revised MARPOL Annex VI & NOx ) is an essential publication for maritime
Administrations, classification societies, shipping companies (owners and operators), edu-
cational institutes, engine and equipment manufacturers and others with an interest in the
prevention of air pollution from ships.
The book includes: - the revised MARPOL Annex VI (Regulations for the Prevention
of Air Pollution from Ships), including emission limits and operational requirements; - the
NOx Technical Code 2008, which is made mandatory under MARPOL Annex VI for all ma-
rine diesel engines with a power output of 130 kW or more, and provides the requirements
for the testing, survey and certification of marine diesel engines; - interim guidelines for ap-
plication of the NOx Technical Code 2008; and - standard specifications for shipboard incin-
erators. (http://www.imo.org/Newsroom/mainframe.asp?topic id=1773&doc id=11234, April
9, 2009). See section 20.4 for the meaning of MARPOL.

125
126 CHAPTER 20. MARITIME RELATED ISSUES

20.4 Some Maritime Terminologies


These terms may be useful to people who are new to the profession.

SOLAS: Safety of Life at Sea Convention (http://www.imo.org)

MARPOL: The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships.
The most important convention regulating and preventing marine pollution by ships is
the IMO International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973,
as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto (MARPOL 73/78). It covers
accidental and operational oil pollution as well as pollution by chemicals, goods in
packaged form, sewage, garbage and air pollution (http://www.imo.org).

ISPS Code: International Ship and Port Facility Security Code, which contains de-
tailed security-related requirements for Governments, port authorities and shipping
companies in a mandatory section (Part A), together with a series of guidelines
about how to meet these requirements in a second, non-mandatory section (Part B)
(http://www.imo.org).
20.4. SOME MARITIME TERMINOLOGIES 127

Move all tables here.


Item
Animal Description Price ($)
Gnat per gram 13.65
each 0.01
Gnu stuffed 92.50
Emu stuffed 33.33
Armadillo frozen 8.99

Table 20.1: Remember, never use vertical lines in tables.


128 CHAPTER 20. MARITIME RELATED ISSUES

.1 Meteorological Station Instruments


The instruments found at a meteorological station are shown in figure 1

Figure 1: Installations and instruments required to conduct meteorological observations


on the ground
(source:http://visual.merriam-webster.com/earth/meteorology/meteorological-
station.php)

.2 Anticyclones
An anticyclone is a region of high pressure with the winds circulating clockwise Northern
Hemispheres. Wind speeds over the central regions are light although on the outskirts,
.2. ANTICYCLONES 129

away from the centre, winds may be strong. General character due to low level divergence
implying descending air subsidence. This causes warming and drying of air at low levels.
Thus anticyclones are regions of quiet weather.
Types Cold anticyclone - cold dense air near surface Warm anticyclone - lower tropo-
sphere warmer than surroundings.
Highs Lows
Larger, slower moving Where as a low is usually an independent And more persistent,
feature throughout its life of several days, Weaker pressure gradient a new high almost
always forms as an Especially near the centre; extension of an existing high or as a Some-
times so much weaker centre near the original eventually That a pressure centre is eventu-
ally replacing it. Its formation Difficult to find; even is accompanied by a rise in the mean
Several small centres may temperature of the atmosphere up Co-exist. To a level in the
middle stratosphere. Its formation is accompanied By cooling of the atmosphere.
Probably the most important characteristic of a developing anticyclone, and one which
largely determines the Wx found in it, is the widespread slow descent of air especially in
the middle troposphere, known as subsidence. (that is General character due to low level
divergence implying descending air subsidence). Its effects are (1) Warms air (at low
levels) since descent causes adiabatic compression. ( warms at DALR of 10?c/km as long
as no clouds are present).
Diagram:
(2) It reduces the relative humidity of the air, (that is dries the air) since the dew point
of descending unsaturated air increases by only about 1.7?c/km whereas the air temperature
increases by 10?c/km. Anticyclones may be classified into cold and warm.
Cold anticyclone where the cold dense air is largely confined to the upper troposphere and
the lower stratosphere. The middle and lower troposphere are often warmer than normal.
[ Here the air in the troposphere is warmer than the average; the high pressure then cannot
be explained by the greater weight of the lower atmosphere and must be due to an excess of
air high levels]. N.B. the terms warm and cold refer to lower troposphere.
Diagram:
A subdivision of each type may be made into permanent (or quasi-permanent) and
temporary or migratory anticyclones.
A permanent anticyclone constitutes a persistent feature of a given area over a period of
months. (Example subtropical high pressure is regarded as permanent feature even though in
places they may be occasionally interrupted or displaced by low pressure systems: Similarly
the Siberian high is a more or less permanent feature throughout the winter months).
The temporary or migratory highs are transient features which often pass over any one
place within a day; occasionally one remains stationary for several days or even weeks, but
then it is usually found to form an extension of a permanent. Origin of high pressure in
anticyclone (CEM Page 178)
Cold Anticyclones
The so called permanent anticyclones over the polar regions are frequently invaded by
130 CHAPTER 20. MARITIME RELATED ISSUES

traveling depressions so that the high pressure is not a permanent feature. Nor are the polar
anticyclones, necessarily of the cold type they can also be of the warm type [Polar regions
above absent 70?N have relatively high atmospheric pressure. This is shown on charts
of annual mean pressure as the polar anticyclone]. The only example of a permanent
cold anticyclone is that over Siberia in the winter (and even this is not immune from
disturbance).
Ascending from the ground through a cold anticyclone, the depth of cold air overhead
progressively decreases and so, therefore, does the excess of pressure over its surroundings.
Since the cold air is confined to the lowest part of the atmosphere it follows that above the
top of the cold air there is no excess pressure, that is, an anticyclone would not be found
on upper-air charts for levels above the top of the cold air. The intensity of a cold high is
thus greatest at low levels; (hence the clockwise wind circulation is most pronounced there
too). A cold high is a shallow feature of the atmosphere.
Temporary cold anticyclones are common features of the middle latitudes. When a
family of frontal depressions travels eastwards, each member is necessarily separated from
its successor by a ridge of high pressure or a small anticyclone in the cold air which moves
along between the 2 centres. The ridge brings a short break of dry weather lasting perhaps 24
hrs between the instability showers behind one depression and the warm front cloud an drain
of the next; (it is a transitory pressure feature which usually collapses as the new depression
advances. When polar air finally breaks through and terminates the family, the cold air
build up into an anticyclone of considerable size. In winter over the land the anticyclone
may merge into, or become an extension of, the seasonal continental anticyclone, by being
maintained as a cold anticyclone by continuous radiative cooling at the surface. Over the
sea, and over the land in summer, a cold anticyclone is never of great persistence; it either
collapses within a day or two or is gradually transformed into a warm anticyclone by the
adiabatic heating associated with subsidence.
The type of Wx depends on many factors
- In summer, polar air is subject to surface heating over both land and sea. Fog, is
therefore exceptional and cumulus clouds may develop. - In the winter, the air may undergo
surface cooling over the land and radiation fog becomes probable where the winds are light ,
and St or SC where the wind is stronger. - The cold anticyclone is however associated with
a large measure of bright and dry WX (In accordance with the general rule that a region
of low temperature tends to become a region of low pressure in the upper atmosphere, the
cold anticyclone is not deep and the easterly winds on its equatorward side are generally
shallow, decreasing with height and changing to westerly at moderate altitudes).