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The timeline of meteorology contains events of scientific and technological advancements in the area of atmospheric sciences. The most notable advancements in observational meteorology, weather forecasting, climatology, atmospheric chemistry, and atmospheric physics are listed chronologically. Some historical weather events are included that mark time periods where advancements were made, or even that sparked policy change.

Early events

Although the term meteorology is used today to describe a subdiscipline of the atmospheric sciences, Aristotle's work is more general. The work touches upon much of what is known as the earth sciences. In his own words:
:...all the affections we may call common to air and water, and the kinds and parts of the earth and the affections of its parts.
One of the most impressive achievements in Meteorology is his description of what is now known as the hydrologic cycle:
:Now the sun, moving as it does, sets up processes of change and becoming and decay, and by its agency the finest and sweetest water is every day carried up and is dissolved into vapour and rises to the upper region, where it is condensed again by the cold and so returns to the earth.

  • c. 80 AD - In his Lunheng (論衡; Critical Essays), the Han Dynasty Chinese philosopher Wang Chong (27-97 AD) dispels the Chinesemarker myth of rain coming from the heavens, and states that rain is evaporated from water on the earth into the air and forms clouds, stating that clouds condense into rain and also form dew, and says when the clothes of people in high mountains are moistened, this is because of the air-suspended rain water. However, Wang Chong supports his theory by quoting a similar one of Gongyang Gao's, the latter's commentary on the Spring and Autumn Annals compiled in the 2nd century BC, showing that the Chinese conception of rain evaporating and rising to form clouds goes back much farther than Wang Chong. Wang Chong wrote:
:As to this coming of rain from the mountains, some hold that the clouds carry the rain with them, dispersing as it is precipitated (and they are right). Clouds and rain are really the same thing. Water evaporating upwards becomes clouds, which condense into rain, or still further into dew.

Middle Ages

  • 9th century - Al-Kindi (Alkindus), an Arab naturalist, wrote a treatise on meteorology entitled Risala fi l-Illa al-Failali l-Madd wa l-Fazr (Treatise on the Efficient Cause of the Flow and Ebb), in which he presents an argument on tides which "depends on the changes which take place in bodies owing to the rise and fall of temperature." He is the first to employ an experimental method in the field, and he describes the following clear and precise laboratory experiment in order to prove his argument:Plinio Prioreschi, "Al-Kindi, A Precursor Of The Scientific Revolution", Journal of the International Society for the History of Islamic Medicine, 2002 (2): 17-19 [17]
:One can also observe by the senses... how in consequence of extreme cold air changes into water. To do this, one takes a glass bottle, fills it completely with snow, and closes its end carefully. Then one determines its weight by weighing. One places it in a container… which has previously been weighed. On the surface of the bottle the air changes into water, and appears upon it like the drops on large porous pitchers, so that a considerable amount of water gradually collects inside the container. One then weighs the bottle, the water and the container, and finds their weight greater than previously, which proves the change. [...] Some foolish persons are of opinion that the snow exudes through the glass. This is impossible. There is no process by which water or snow can be made to pass through glass.

  • 10th century - Ibn Wahshiyya's Nabatean Agriculture discusses the weather forecasting of atmospheric changes and signs from the planetary astral alterations; signs of rain based on observation of the lunar phases, nature of thunder and lightning, direction of sunrise, behaviour of certain plants and animals, and weather forecasts based on the movement of winds; pollenized air and winds; and formation of winds and vapours.

  • 10th century - As weather forecasting predictions and the measurement of time and the onset of seasons became more precise and reliable, Muslim agriculturalists became informed of these advances and often employed them in agriculture, making it possible for them to plan the growth of each of their crops at specific times of the year.

  • Late 11th century - Abu 'Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Ma'udh, who lived in Al-Andalusmarker, wrote a work on optics later translated into Latin as Liber de crepisculis, which was mistakenly attributed to Alhazen. This was a short work containing an estimation of the angle of depression of the sun at the beginning of the morning twilight and at the end of the evening twilight, and an attempt to calculate on the basis of this and other data the height of the atmospheric moisture responsible for the refraction of the sun's rays. Through his experiments, he obtained the accurate value of 18°, which comes close to the modern value.

  • 1088 - In his Dream Pool Essays (梦溪笔谈), the Chinesemarker scientist Shen Kuo wrote vivid descriptions of tornadoes, that rainbows were formed by the shadow of the sun in rain, occurring when the sun would shine upon it, and the curious common phenomena of the effect of lightning that, when striking a house, would merely scorch the walls a bit but completely melt to liquid all metal objects inside.

  • 1441 - King Sejongs son, Prince Munjong, invented the first standardized rain gauge. These were sent throughout the Joseon Dynastymarker of Koreamarker as an official tool to assess land taxes based upon a farmer's potential harvest.

: - Nicolas Cryfts, (Nicolas of Cusa), described the first hair hygrometer to measure humidity. The design was drawn by Leonardo da Vinci, referencing Cryfts design in da Vinci's Codex Atlanticus.

  • 1494 Christopher Columbus experience a tropical cyclone, leads to the first written European account of a hurricane.

17th century

  • 1607 - Galileo Galilei constructs a thermoscope. Not only did this device measure temperature, but it represented a paradigm shift. Up to this point, heat and cold were believed to be qualities of Aristotle's elements (fire, water, air, and earth). Note: There is some controversy about who actually built this first thermoscope. There is some evidence for this device being independently built at several different times. This is the era of the first recorded meteorological observations. As there was no standard measurement, they were of little use until the work of Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit and Anders Celsius in the 18th century.
Sir Francis Bacon
Blaise Pascal.
: - Edmund Halley establishes the relationship between barometric pressure and height above sea level.

18th century

Global circulation as described by Hadley.

19th century

The electrical telegraph owned and built by Samuel Morse.
  • 1837 - Samuel Morse independently developed an electrical telegraph, an alternative design that was capable of transmitting over long distances using poor quality wire. His assistant, Alfred Vail, developed the Morse code signalling alphabet with Morse. The first electric telegram using this device was sent by Morse on May 24, 1844 from the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.marker to the B&O Railroad "outer depot" in Baltimoremarker and sent the message:
:What hath God wrought
  • 1839 - The first commercial electrical telegraph was constructed by Sir William Fothergill Cooke and entered use on the Great Western Railway. Cooke and Wheatstone patented it in May 1837 as an alarm system.
  • 1841 - Elias Loomis the first person known to attempt to devise a theory on frontal zones, and prepared some of the first known weather maps. The idea of fronts did not catch on until expanded upon by the Norwegians in the years following World War I.
  • 1843 - John James Waterston fully expounds the kinetic theory of gases, but is ridiculed and ignored.
: - James Prescott Joule experimentally finds the mechanical equivalent of heat.
: - Lucien Vidie invented the aneroid, from Greek meaning without liquid, barometer.
: - William John Macquorn Rankine calculates the correct relationship between saturated vapour pressure and temperature using his hypothesis of molecular vortices.
: - Rudolf Clausius gives the first clear joint statement of the first and second law of thermodynamics, abandoning the caloric theory, but preserving Carnot's principle.
  • 1852 - Joule and Thomson demonstrate that a rapidly expanding gas cools, later named the Joule-Thomson effect.
  • 1854 - The French astronomer Leverrier showed that a storm in the Black Sea could be followed across Europe and would have been predictable if the telegraph had been used. A service of storm forecasts was established a year later by the Paris Observatorymarker.
: - Rankine introduces his thermodynamic function, later identified as entropy.
: - After establishment in 1849, 500 U.S. telegraph stations are now making weather observations and submitting them back to the Smithsonian Institutionmarker. The observations are later interrupted by the American Civil War.
  • 1865 - Josef Loschmidt applies Maxwell's theory to estimate the number-density of molecules in gases, given observed gas viscosities.
: - Manila Observatory founded in the Philippines.
: - United Statesmarker Army Signal Corp, forerunner of the National Weather Service, issues its first hurricane warning.
Synoptic chart from 1874.
: - The first mention of the term "El Niño" to refer to climate occurs when Captain Camilo Carrilo told the Geographical society congress in Limamarker that Peruvian sailors named the warm northerly current "El Niño" because it was most noticeable around Christmas.
: - Svante Arrhenius proposes carbon dioxide as a key factor to explain the ice ages.
  • 1898 - US Weather Bureau established a hurricane warning network at Kingston, Jamaica.

20th century

  • 1902 - Richard Assmann and Léon Teisserenc de Bort, two European scientists, independently discovered the stratosphere.
  • 1904 - Vilhelm Bjerknes presents the vision that forecasting the weather is feasible based on mathematical methods.
  • 1905 - Australian Bureau of Meteorology established by a Meteorology Act to unify existing state meteorological services.
  • 1919 - Norwegian Cyclone Model introduced for the first time in meteorological literature. Marks a revolution in the way the atmosphere is conceived and immediately starts leading to improved forecasts. Sakuhei Fujiwhara is the first to note that hurricanes move with the larger scale flow, and later publishes a paper on the Fujiwara Effect in 1921.
  • 1920 - Milutin Milankovićmarker proposes that long term climatic cycles may be due to changes in the eccentricity of the Earth's orbit and changes in the Earth's obliquity.
  • 1922 - Lewis Fry Richardson organises the first numerical weather prediction experiment.
  • 1923 - The oscillation effects of ENSO were first erroneously described by Sir Gilbert Thomas Walker from whom the Walker circulation takes its name; now an important aspect of the Pacific ENSO phenomenon.
  • 1924 - Gilbert Walker first coined the term "Southern Oscillation".
  • 1930, January 30 - Pavel Molchanov invents and launches the first radiosonde. Named "271120", it was released 13:44 Moscow Time in Pavlovskmarker, USSRmarker from the Main Geophysical Observatory, reached a height of 7.8 kilometers measuring temperature there (-40.7 °C) and sent the first aerological message to the Leningrad Weather Bureau and Moscow Central Forecast Institute.
  • 1935 - IMO decides on the 30 years normal period (1900-1930) to describe the climate.
  • 1937 - The U.S. Army Air Forces Weather Service was established (redesignated in 1946 as AWS-Air Weather Service).
  • 1938 - Guy Stewart Callendar first to propose global warming from carbon dioxide emissions.
  • 1939 - Rossby waves were first identified in the atmosphere by Carl-Gustaf Arvid Rossby who explained their motion. Rossby waves are a subset of inertial waves.
  • 1941 - Pulsed radar network is implemented in Englandmarker during WWII. Generally during the war, operators started noticing echoes from weather elements such as rain and snow.
  • 1943 - 10 years after flying into the Washington Hoover Airportmarker on mainly instruments during the August 1933 Chesapeake-Potomac hurricane, J. B. Duckworth flies his airplane into a Gulf hurricane off the coast of Texas, proving to the military and meteorological community the utility of weather reconnaissance.
  • 1944 - The Great Atlantic Hurricane is caught on radar near the Mid-Atlantic coast, the first such picture noted from the United States.
  • 1947 - The Soviet Union launched its first Long Range Ballistic Rocket 18 October, based on the German rocket A4 (V-2). The photographs demonstrated the immense potential of observing weather from space.
  • 1948 - First correct tornado prediction by Robert C. Miller and E. J. Fawbush for tornado in Oklahoma.
: - Erik Palmén publishes his findings that hurricanes require surface water temperatures of at least 26°C (80°F) in order to form.
: - Hurricanes begin to be named alphabetically with the radio alphabet.
: - WMO World Meteorological Organization replaces IMO under the auspice of the United Nations.
: - A United Statesmarker Navy rocket captures a picture of an inland tropical depression near the Texas/Mexico border, which leads to a surprise flood event in New Mexico. This convinces the government to set up a weather satellite program.
: - NSSP National Severe Storms Project and NHRP National Hurricane Research Projects established. The Miami office of the United Statesmarker Weather Bureau is designated the main hurricane warning center for the Atlantic Basin.
The first television image of Earth from space from the TIROS-1 weather satellite.
  • 1959 - The first weather satellite, Vanguard 2, was launched on 17 February. It was designed to measure cloud cover, but a poor axis of rotation kept it from collecting a notable amount of useful data.
  • 1960 - The first weather satellite to be considered a success was TIROS-1, launched by NASA on 1 April. TIROS operated for 78 days and proved to be much more successful than Vanguard 2. TIROS paved the way for the Nimbus program, whose technology and findings are the heritage of most of the Earth-observing satellites NASAmarker and NOAA have launched since then.
  • 1961 - Edward Lorenz accidentally discovers Chaos theory when working on numerical weather prediction.
  • 1962 - Keith Browning and Frank Ludlam publish first detailed study of a supercell storm (over Wokingham, UK). Project STORMFURY begins its 10-year project of seeding hurricanes with silver iodide, attempting to weaken the cyclones.
  • 1968 - A hurricane database for Atlantic hurricanes is created for NASA by Charlie Newmann and John Hope, named HURDAT.
  • 1969 - Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale created, used to describe hurricane strength on a category range of 1 to 5. Popularized during Hurricane Gloria of 1985 by media.
: - Jacob Bjerknes described ENSO by suggesting that an anomalously warm spot in the eastern Pacific can weaken the east-west temperature difference, causing weakening in the Walker circulation and trade wind flows, which push warm water to the west.
  • 1970s Weather radars are becoming more standardized and organized into networks. The number of scanned angles was increased to get a three-dimensional view of the precipitation, which allowed studies of thunderstorms. Experiments with the Doppler effect begin.
  • 1970 - NOAA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration established. Weather Bureau is renamed the National Weather Service.
  • 1971 - Ted Fujita introduces the Fujita scale for rating tornadoes.
  • 1974 - AMeDAS network, developed by Japan Meteorological Agency used for gathering regional weather data and verifying forecast performance, begun operation on November 1, the system consists of about 1,300 stations with automatic observation equipment. These stations, of which more than 1,100 are unmanned, are located at an average interval of 17 km throughout Japanmarker.
  • 1975 - The first Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, GOES, was launched into orbit. Their role and design is to aid in hurricane tracking. Also this year, Vern Dvorak develops a scheme to estimate tropical cyclone intensity from satellite imagery.
: - The first use of a General Circulation Model to study the effects of carbon dioxide doubling. Syukuro Manabe and Richard Wetherald at Princeton Universitymarker.
  • 1980s onwards, networks of weather radars are further expanded in the developed world. Doppler weather radar is becoming gradually more common, adds velocity information.
  • 1982 - The first Synoptic Flow experiment is flown around Hurricane Debby to help define the large scale atmospheric winds that steer the storm.
  • 1988 - WSR-88D type weather radar implemented in the United States. Weather surveillance radar that uses several modes to detect severe weather conditions.
  • 1992 - Computers first used in the United States to draw surface analyses.
  • 1997 - The Pacific Decadal Oscillation was named by Steven R. Hare, who noticed it while studying salmon production patterns. Simultaneously the PDO climate pattern was also found by Yuan Zhang.
  • 1998 - Improving technology and software finally allows for the digital underlaying of satellite imagery, radar imagery, model data, and surface observations improving the quality of United States Surface Analyses.
: - CAMEX3, a NASA experiment run in conjunction with NOAA's Hurricane Field Program collects detailed data sets on Hurricanes Bonnie, Danielle, and Georges.
  • 1999 - Hurricane Floyd induces fright factor in some coastal States and causes a massive evacuation from coastal zones from northern Florida to the Carolinas. It comes ashore in North Carolina and results in nearly 80 dead and $4.5 billion in damages mostly due to extensive flooding.

21st century

See also

References and Notes

  1. Needham, Joseph (1986). Science and Civilization in China: Volume 3, Mathematics and the Sciences of the Heavens and the Earth. Taipei: Caves Books Ltd.
  2. Al-Kindi, FSTC
  3. , in
  4. Zohor Idrisi (2005), The Muslim Agricultural Revolution and its influence on Europe, FSTC
  5. Robert Briffault (1938). The Making of Humanity, p. 191
  6. Rosanna Gorini (2003). "Al-Haytham the Man of Experience. First Steps in the Science of Vision", International Society for the History of Islamic Medicine. Institute of Neurosciences, Laboratory of Psychobiology and Psychopharmacology, Rome, Italy.
  7. Dr. Mahmoud Al Deek. "Ibn Al-Haitham: Master of Optics, Mathematics, Physics and Medicine, Al Shindagah, November-December 2004.
  8. Sami Hamarneh (March 1972). Review of Hakim Mohammed Said, Ibn al-Haitham, Isis 63 (1), p. 119.
  9. George Sarton, Introduction to the History of Science (cf. Dr. A. Zahoor and Dr. Z. Haq (1997), Quotations from Famous Historians of Science)
  10. Bradley Steffens (2006), Ibn al-Haytham: First Scientist, Chapter Five, Morgan Reynolds Publishing, ISBN 1599350246
  11. Dr. Nader El-Bizri, "Ibn al-Haytham or Alhazen", in Josef W. Meri (2006), Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopaedia, Vol. II, p. 343-345, Routledge, New York, London.
  12. Toulmin, S. and Goodfield, J. (1965), The Ancestry of science: The Discovery of Time, Hutchinson & Co., London, p. 64 (cf. Contribution of Ibn Sina to the development of Earth Sciences)
  13. Robert E. Hall (1973). "Al-Biruni", Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Vol. VII, p. 336.
  14. Morison, Samuel Eliot,Admiral of the Ocean Sea: A Life of Cristopher Columbus, Boston, 1942, page 617.
  15. Highlights in the study of snowflakes and snow crystals
  16. New Organon (1863 English translation)
  17. Florin to Pascal, September 1647,Œuves completes de Pascal, 2:682.
  18. Raymond S. Bradley, Philip D. Jones, Climate Since A.D. 1500, Routledge, 1992, ISBN 0415075939, p.144
  19. Thomas Birch's History of the Royal Society is one of the most important sources of our knowledge not only of the origins of the Society, but also the day to day running of the Society. It is in these records that the majority of Wren’s scientific works are recorded.
  20. Cook, Alan H., Edmond Halley: Charting the Heavens and the Seas (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998)
  21. Grigull, U., Fahrenheit, a Pioneer of Exact Thermometry. Heat Transfer, 1966, The Proceedings of the 8th International Heat Transfer Conference, San Francisco, 1966, Vol. 1.
  22. George Hadley, “Concerning the cause of the general trade winds,” Philosophical Transactions, vol. 39 (1735).
  23. Beckman, Olof, History of the Celsius temperature scale., translated, Anders Celsius (Elementa,84:4,2001); English
  24. Dorst, Neal, FAQ:_Hurricanes,_Typhoons,_and_Tropical_Cyclones:_Hurricane_Timeline, Hurricane_Research_Division,_Atlantic_Oceanographic_and_Meteorological_Laboratory,_NOAA, January 2006.
  25. Biographical note at “Lectures and Papers of Professor Daniel Rutherford (1749–1819), and Diary of Mrs Harriet Rutherford”.
  26. "Sur la combustion en général" ("On Combustion in general," 1777) and "Considérations Générales sur la Nature des Acides" ("General Considerations on the Nature of Acids," 1778).
  27. Lavoisier, ("Reflections on Phlogiston," 1783).
  28. Lavoisier, Antoine, Elements of Chemistry, Dover Publications Inc., New York, NY,1965, 511 pages.
  29. The 1880 edition of A Guide to the Scientific Knowledge of Things Familiar, a 19th century educational science book, explained heat transfer in terms of the flow of caloric.
  30. Library of Congress. The Invention of the Telegraph. Retrieved on 2009-01-01.
  31. David M. Schultz. Perspectives on Fred Sanders's Research on Cold Fronts, 2003, revised, 2004, 2006, p. 5. Retrieved on 2006-07-14.
  32. Millikan, Frank Rives, JOSEPH_HENRY:_Father_of_Weather_Service, 1997, Smithsonian Institution
  33. International Cloud-Atlas verbatim
  34. Norwegian_Cyclone_Model, webpage from NOAA Jetstream online school for weather.
  35. Roth, David, and Hugh Cobb, Virginia_Hurricane_History:_Early_Twentieth_Century, July 16, 2001.
  36. [ Earth Observation History on Technology Introduction.]
  37. Unified_Surface_Analysis_Manual.

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