About weather observations

Helgi Borg 28.2.2008

Weather observations are made to acquire information about the state of the atmosphere. The following factors are the most important observations, and they are relatively easy to measure:

  • Temperature
  • Air pressure
  • Wind at the Earth’s surface

These factors are either measured with automatic meters or a weather observer reads the meters or evaluates the observation in some way.

Weather elements

What is weather? To describe the weather, elements are measured and evaluated such as:

  • Air temperature

  • Water vapour

  • Air pressure

  • All types of precipitation

  • Wind

  • Fog

  • Mist

  • Visibility

  • Cloud cover

  • Thunder and lighting

Types of measurement stations and equipment

  • Nowadays, automatically operating weather stations are in common use. Such stations can record data at regular intervals (e.g., every 10 minutes), while manual observations are made typically every three hours, or more.
  • Manual measurements of cloud cover, visibility and precipitation are essential, despite technological advances in automated measurement.

  • Satellite-based observations are an increasingly important factor in modern-day weather forecasting.

  • Weather observations are international and countries exchange large amounts of data on a daily basis. Additionally, synchronous observations are made worldwide, allowing the state of the atmosphere to be mapped and examined.

  • Frequent observations made over long periods allow global atmospheric changes such as the enhanced greenhouse effect to be monitored and detected.

  • Weather observations are also necessary for prudent use of a country’s resources; for instance, agriculture, marine industries, tourism and energy production all rely on knowledge of changing weather conditions.

Weather observation map

  • To provide the greatest perspective on current conditions, weather observation maps use synchronous observations. This makes it easier to visualise present weather conditions and likely short-term changes.

  • Since the advent of the Internet, public access to graphical information has increased tremendously, making it even easier to view meteorological observations and forecasts.

  • One of the latest advances is the use of Internet-compatible telephones for receiving the latest weather forecast - a trend gaining popularity in Iceland.


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