Meteorology: From Myth To Measurement Essay

1987 words - 8 pages

Avoiding the weather is impossible. Weather forecasting is the one branch of science that nearly everyone uses on a daily basis. Whether one checks the forecast in the morning, afternoon, or night, knowing the atmospheric conditions enables us to prepare for the type of weather we will be facing. Predicting the climate has been practiced since the beginning of time with more or less accuracy. Historical beliefs show numerous examples of weather predicting methods based on observing surrounding elements. Although meteorologists observations aren’t always precise; having little knowledge about what may happen is better than none. “The only thing that never changes about the weather is ...view middle of the document...

“With such control, God is able to give good weather to his followers and bad weather to the unbelievers” (12).
The forecasting of weather conditions was based solely on perceptions of the sky. The sky is assuredly the first indicator used in meteorology. The sky’s cover and nature of clouds gives clues of the upcoming temperature and weather. It is alluded to in the book of Matthew where Jesus says to the religious leaders of the first century, “You are able to interpret the appearance of the sky but the sign of the times you cannot interpret” (Potter). The skill of weather forecasting started with early civilizations using relapsing astronomical and meteorological events to help them monitor seasonal changes in the weather. These assumptions led to the curiosity of ancient philosophers’ short-term weather prophecies.
Stated in the Earth Observatory article, in 650 B.C. the Babylonians tried to predict short-term weather changes based on the appearance of clouds and optical phenomena such as haloes. Also in 300 B.C., the Chinese astronomers developed a calendar that divided the year into 24 festivals, each festival associated with a different type of weather. But even with these predictions, the causes still remained unclear. “The Greeks were probably the first to contemplate and discuss the actual causes of weather,” said Susan and Steven Wills. The Greeks even gave their effort a name: meteorology, or the study of meteors. “For them, the word ‘meteor’ described anything that appeared in the space between Earth and the Moon. Besides meteors, this could include clouds, rain, snow, fog, hail, thunder, and rainbows” (Wills 11). Susan and Steven Wills wrote, “In Greek mythology, Zeus struck a deal between Hades, the god of the underworld, and Demeter, the goddess of the harvest, which led to a myth in why the seasons changed. Persephone, Demeter’s daughter and the maiden of spring, would stay with Hades in the underworld, and for the other half she will return with Demeter. Although Demeter wasn’t very happy with the arrangement, she agreed and during Persephone’s stay in the underworld, Demeter would not allow any food to grow and she covered the world with ice and snow.” “This well-known Greek myth not only served to explain the changing of the seasons, but it was also a reminder that, although winter might be bitterly cold and summer heat might be unbearable, no season lasts forever” (Wills 8). However, the Greeks weren’t the only civilization to worship gods associated with the weather because weather gods were central to all cultures.
As read in the book Meteorology: Predicting the Weather by Susan and Steven Wills, the Babylonians worshiped Marduk, the god of the atmosphere. Early civilizations of India worshiped Indra, the god of rain and storms; and some Native American myths include stories of the Thunderbird, who brought lightning with the winking of his eyes and thunder from the flapping of his wings. People...

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