Weatherwatch: How forecasts emerged in medieval times | Meteorology


HMen have been talking about weather for millennia, but it wasn’t until August 1861 that daily weather forecasts became available, in The Times (of London). Pioneering meteorologist Robert FitzRoy ensured that the new forecasts used a scientific procedure and were based on reliable weather observations, using new telegraph technology to quickly collect data. However, the origins of modern weather forecasting go back further.

Anne Lawrence-Mathers, historian at the University of Reading, showed that detailed meteorological observations and complex astronomical and mathematical calculations were occurring as early as the ninth century. Writing in the journal Weather, she documents how the Arab philosopher Al-Kindi put forward the idea that heat was the fundamental driving force in weather, with heated air extending into areas where cooler air sank. was contracted, thus determining the strength and direction of the wind.

Meanwhile, some of the earliest examples of weather observations were found in the margins of a 1269/1270 calendar owned by English philosopher Roger Bacon. In the 14th century, weather observations were studied alongside planetary data to produce “rules” for weather forecasts. Weather forecasts (years in the future) became popular in the 16th century, and meteorological terminology, such as “overcast” and “uncertain,” entered common parlance around this time.

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