9780262130837 / 0262130831

Weather Forecasting as a Problem in Physics


Publisher:The MIT Press



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About the book:

Meteorology is an exact science, but every reader can attest that weather prediction is at present a somewhat chancy art. The purpose of this book is to define the problem in the context of fundamental considerations rather than to enumerate ad hoc weather indicators or to build a statistical model based on historical data.

This is the only up-to-date work available that takes this fundamental approach. It presents an expository summary of developments of the past 20 years in applying fluid dynamicsa field in which the author is an international authorityand other physical principles to understanding and predicting large-scale motions in the atmosphere. It treats weather prediction as a largely deterministic problem tempered by observational errors in data. This viewpoint has become dominant in meteorology in recent years. Important developments such as the use of satellite data for cloud pictures and the use of laboratory models (rotating headed fluids, for example) are covered.

The book emphasizesand reflects in its references and citationsthe international character of this applied science and in fact parallels the main thrust of the current large international program, GARP (Global Atmospheric Research Program), which is to base its explorations on the type of theory that Monin discusses.

After stating the problem and summarizing the history of the attacks made upon it, the book takes up, in turn, the hydrodynamic theory of short-range weather prediction and the physical nature of long-term weather changes.

In his Foreword, Joseph Smagorinsky notes, "Professor A. S. Monin is perhaps best known to the West for his striking original contributions to the theory of turbulence. However, here he has undertaken a systematic and rather unique accounting of the evolution of the dynamical and physical basis for large-scale atmospheric modeling appropriate for the simulation of atmospheric motions spanning the spectrum from short-period to climatic time scales."

Monin himself writes, "Some of the positions taken in this book are proven theorems (e.g., the theorem of potential vorticity conservation), while others represent only the opinion of the author and are subject to dispute (e.g., opinions on the uselessness of returning to the primitive equations, the existence of free cumulus convection, the crucial significance of the numerical-experiment method, the importance of the predictability problem, the lack of influence by solar activity on the weather, and so on). Believing that scientific debates are conducted too rarely, while they can in the final analysis help in ascertaining the truth, the author decided not to be afraid of expressing opinions on debatable issues."

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