Meteorology - History - Research Into Cyclones and Air Flow

Research Into Cyclones and Air Flow

In 1494, Christopher Columbus experienced a tropical cyclone, which led to the first written European account of a hurricane. In 1686, Edmund Halley presented a systematic study of the trade winds and monsoons and identified solar heating as the cause of atmospheric motions. In 1735, an ideal explanation of global circulation through study of the trade winds was written by George Hadley. In 1743, when Benjamin Franklin was prevented from seeing a lunar eclipse by a hurricane, he decided that cyclones move in a contrary manner to the winds at their periphery. Understanding the kinematics of how exactly the rotation of the earth affects airflow was partial at first. Gaspard-Gustave Coriolis published a paper in 1835 on the energy yield of machines with rotating parts, such as waterwheels. In 1856, William Ferrel proposed the existence of a circulation cell in the mid-latitudes with air being deflected by the Coriolis force to create the prevailing westerly winds. Late in the 19th century the full extent of the large scale interaction of pressure gradient force and deflecting force that in the end causes air masses to move along isobars was understood. By 1912, this deflecting force was named the Coriolis effect. Just after World War I, a group of meteorologists in Norway led by Vilhelm Bjerknes developed the Norwegian cyclone model that explains the generation, intensification and ultimate decay (the life cycle) of mid-latitude cyclones, introducing the idea of fronts, that is, sharply defined boundaries between air masses. The group included Carl-Gustaf Rossby (who was the first to explain the large scale atmospheric flow in terms of fluid dynamics), Tor Bergeron (who first determined the mechanism by which rain forms) and Jacob Bjerknes.

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