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Weather Glossary

Weather Glossary

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Published by: kapil on Aug 28, 2011
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A
 
ABSOLUTE HUMIDITY
 A type of humiditythat considers the mass of  water vaporpresent per unit volume of  space. Also considered as the density of the water vapor. It is usually expressed in grams per cubic meter.
ABSOLUTE INSTABILITY
 When thelapse rate of a column of airis greater than the dry adiabaticlapse rate. The term absolute is used because this applies whether or not the air is dry orsaturated.Related term:instability 
ABSOLUTE TEMPERATURE
SCALEAtemperaturescale with a freezing point of +273°K (Kelvin) and a boiling point of +373°K. Related term:Kelvin Temperature Scale 
ABSOLUTE ZERO
 Considered to be the point at which theoretically no molecular activity exists or thetemperature at which the volume of a perfect gas vanishes. The value is 0° Kelvin, -273.15° Celsiusand -459.67°Fahrenheit. 
ABSORPTION
 The process in which incidentradiantenergy is retained by a substance. The absorbedradiation is then transformed into molecular energy.
ABYSSAL PLAIN
 The flat, gently sloping or nearly level region of theseafloor.
ADIABATIC PROCESS
 Athermodynamicchange of state in a system in which there is no transfer of  heator mass across the boundaries of the system. In this process, compression will result in warmingand expansion will result in cooling.
ADVECTION
 The horizontal transfer of any property in theatmosphereby the movement of air(wind). Examples includeheatandmoisture advection.
ADVECTION FOG
 Fog that develops when warm moist airmoves over a colder surface, cooling that air to below itsdew point.Related terms:Arctic Sea Smokeandsea fog 
ADVISORY
 Statements that are issued by theNational Weather Servicefor probable weather situationsof inconvenience that do not carry the danger of  warningcriteria, but, if not observed, could lead to hazardous situations. Some examples includesnowadvisories stating possibleslick streets, orfogadvisories for patchy fog condition causing temporary restrictions tovisibility.
AFOS
 Acronym for
A
utomation of 
F
ield
O
perations and
S
ervices. It is the computer system thatlinks National Weather Serviceoffices together for weatherdata transmission.
AIR 
 This is considered the mixture of gases that make up the earth'satmosphere. The principalgases that compose dry air areNitrogen(N
2
) at 78.09%,Oxygen(O
2
) at 20.946%,Argon(A) at 0.93%, andCarbon Dioxide(CO
2
) at 0.033%. One of the most importantconstituents of air and most important gases inmeteorologyiswater vapor(H
2
O).
AIR MASS
 An extensive body of airthroughout which the horizontaltemperatureandmoisture characteristics are similar.
AIR MASS THUNDERSTORM
 Athunderstormthat is produced byconvectionwithin an unstableair mass through an instability mechanism. Such thunderstorms normally occur within atropical or warm, moist air mass during the summer afternoon as the result of afternoon heating and dissipate soonaftersunset.Such thunderstorms are not generally associated with frontsand are less likely to becomesevere than other types of thunderstorms. However, that does not preclude them from having brief heavydownpours.
AIR POLLUTION
 The soiling of theatmosphereby contaminants to the point that may cause injury to health,property, plant, or animal life, or prevent the use and enjoyment of the outdoors.
AIR QUALITY STANDARDS
 
 
Themaximum level which will be permitted for a given pollutant. Primary standards are to be sufficiently stringent to protect the public health. Secondary standards must protect thepublic welfare, including property and aesthetics.
ALASKAN WINDS
 Thedownslopeair flow that blows through the Alaskan valleys. It is usually given localnames, such as Knik, Matanuska, Pruga, Stikine, Taku, Take, Turnagain, or Williwaw.
ALBEDO
 The ratio of the amount of radiationreflected from an object's surface compared to theamount that strikes it. This varies according to the texture, color, and expanse of theobject's surface and is reported in percentage. Surfaces with high albedo includesand and snow, while low albedo rates include forests and freshly turned earth.Related term:Dave's Dictionary 
ALBERTA CLIPPER 
 A fast moving,snow-producingweathersystem that originates in theleeof the Canadian Rockies. It moves quickly across the northern United States, often bring gustywindsandcoldArcticair.
ALEUTIAN LOW
 Asemi-permanent, subpolararea of low pressurelocated in the Gulf of Alaska near the Aleutian Islands. It is a generating area forstormsand migratory lows often reachmaximum intensity in this area. It is most active during the late fall to latespring. During thesummer, it is weaker, retreating towards the North Pole and becoming almostnonexistent. During this time, theNorth Pacific Highpressure system dominates.Related term:Icelandic Low 
ALTIMETER 
 An instrument used to determine the altitudeof an object with respect to a fixed level. The type normally used by meteorologistsmeasures the altitude with respect to sea level pressure.
ALTIMETER SETTING
 Thepressurevalue to which an aircraft altimeterscale is set so that it will indicate the altitude abovemean sea levelof an aircraft on the ground at the location for which the value was determined.
ALTITUDE
 Inmeteorology,the measure of a height of an airborne object in respect to aconstant pressuresurface or above mean sea level.
ALTOCUMULUS
 Composed of flattened, thick, gray, globular masses, this middle cloudgenus is primarily made of water droplets. In themid-latitudes, cloud bases are usually found between 8,000 and 18,000 feet. A defining characteristic is that it often appears as a wavy billowy layer of cloud, giving it the nickname of "sheep" or "woolpack" clouds. Sometimes confused withcirrocumulusclouds, its elements (individual clouds) have a larger mass and cast a shadowon other elements. It may form several sub-types, such as altocumulus castellanus or altocumulus lenticularis.Virgamay also fall from these clouds.
ALTOCUMULUS CASTELLANUS
 Amiddle cloudwith vertical development that forms fromaltocumulusclouds. It is composed primarily of ice crystalsin its higher portions and characterized by its turrets,protuberances, or crenelated tops. Its formation indicatesinstabilityand turbulenceat the altitudesof occurrence.
ALTOSTRATUS
 Thismiddle cloudgenus is composed of water droplets, and sometimesice crystals, In the mid-latitudes, cloud bases are generally found between 15,000 and 20,000 feet. White togray in color, it can create a fibrous veil or sheet, sometimes obscuring the sun or moon. Itis a good indicator of precipitation, as it often precedes a storm system.Virga often falls from these clouds.
AMERICAN METEOROLOGICAL SOCIETY
 An organization whose membership promotes the education and professional advancementof theatmospheric, hydrologic, andoceanographicsciences. For further information, contact theAMS.Related term:National Weather Association 
ANABATIC WIND
 Awindthat is created by air flowing uphill. Valley breezes,produced by local daytime heating, are an example of these winds. The opposite of a katabatic wind.
ANEMOMETER 
 
 
An instrument that measures thespeedor force of thewind. Related term:Dave's Dictionary 
ANEROID BAROMETER 
 An instrument for measuring theatmospheric pressure. It registers the change in the shapeof an evacuated metal cell to measure variations on the atmospheric pressure. The aneroidis a thin-walled metal capsule or cell, usually made of phosphor bronze or beryllium copper.The scales on the glass cover measure pressure in both inches andmillibars. Related term:mercurial barometer 
ANOMALOUS PROPAGATION
 This refers to the non-standard propagation of a beam of energy, radio orradar,undercertainatmosphericconditions, appearing as false (non-precipitation) echoes. May be referred to as A.P.
ANTARCTIC
 Of or relating to the area around the geographic South Pole, from 90° South to theAntarctic Circle at approximately 66 1/2°Southlatitude, including the continent of  Antarctica. Along the Antarctic Circle, the sun does not set on the day of the summer  solstice(approximately December 21st) and does not rise on the day of thewintersolstice (approximately June 21st).
ANTARCTIC OCEAN
 Although not officially recognized as a separateoceanbody, it is commonly applied to thoseportions of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans that reach theAntarcticcontinent ontheir southern extremes.
ANTICYCLONE
 A relative pressure maximum. An area of pressurethat has divergingwindsand a rotation  opposite to the earth's rotation. This is clockwise the Northern Hemisphere and counter-clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. It is the opposite of an area of low pressure,or a cyclone.Related term:high pressure 
ANVIL
 The upper portion of acumulonimbuscloud that becomes flat and spread-out, sometimesfor hundreds of miles downstream from the parent cloud. It may look smooth or fibrous,but in shape, it resembles a blacksmith's anvil. It indicates the mature or decaying stage of athunderstorm.
APHELION
 The point on the earth's orbit that is farthest from the sun. Although the position is part of a 21,000 year cycle, currently it occurs around July, when the earth is about 3 million milesfarther from the sun than atperihelion. This term can be applied to any other celestial bodyin orbit around the sun. It is the opposite of perihelion.
APOGEE
 The point farthest from the earth on the moon's orbit. This term can be applied to any otherbody orbiting the earth, such assatellites. It is the opposite of  perigee.
ARCTIC
 Of or relating to the area around the geographic North Pole, from 90° North to the ArcticCircle at approximately 66 1/2 North latitude.
ARCTIC AIR MASS
 Anair massthat develops around theArctic,it is characterized by being cold from surface to great heights. The boundary of this air mass is often defined by the Arcticfront, a semi-permanent, semi-continuous feature. When this air mass moves from its source region, itmay become more shallow in height as it spreads southward.
ARCTIC JET
 The jet streamthat is situated high in thestratospherein and around theArcticorAntarctic Circles. It marks the boundary of polar andarctic air masses.
ARCTIC SEA SMOKE
 A type of advection fog that forms primarily over water when coldair passes across warmer waters.Related term:steam fog 
ARGON (A)
 A colorless, odorless inert gas that is the third most abundant constituent of dryair,comprising 0.93% of the total.
ARID
 A term used for an extremely dryclimate.The degree to which a climate lacks effective, life-promoting moisture. It is considered the opposite of humidwhen speaking of climates.

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