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Weather by the Numbers The Genesis of Modern Meteorology

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ISBN-10: 0262083787

ISBN-13: 9780262083782

Edition: 2008

Authors: Kristine C. Harper

List price: $42.00
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Description:

For much of the first half of the twentieth century, meteorology was more art than science, dependent on an individual forecaster's lifetime of local experience. In Weather by the Numbers,Kristine Harper tells the story of the transformation of meteorology from a "t;guessing science"t; into a sophisticated physics- and mathematics-based scientific discipline. What made this possible was the development of the electronic digital computer; earlier attempts at numerical weather prediction had foundered on the human inability to solve nonlinear equations quickly enough for timely forecasting. After World War II, the combination of an expanded observation network developed for military purposes, newly trained mathematics- and physics-savvy meteorologists, and the nascent digital computer created a new way of approaching both atmospheric theory and weather forecasting. Harper examines the efforts of meteorologists to professionalize their discipline during the interwar years and the rapid expansion of personnel and observational assets during World War II. She describes how, by the 1950s, academic, Weather Bureau, and military meteorologists had moved atmospheric modeling from research subject to operational forecasting. Challenging previous accounts that give sole credit for the development of numerical weather prediction to digital computer inventor John von Neumann, Harper points to the crucial contributions of Carl-Gustav Rossby (founder of MIT's meteorology program and part of what Harper calls the "t;Scandinavian Tag Team"t; working with von Neumann). This transformation of a discipline, Harper writes, was the most important intellectual achievement of twentieth-century meteorology, and paved the way for the growth of computer-assisted modeling in all the sciences.
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Book details

List price: $42.00
Copyright year: 2008
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 8/1/2008
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 328
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.00" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 1.188
Language: English

Kristine C. Harper is Kristine C. Harper is Associate Professor of History at The Florida State University in Tallahassee. In 2007-2008, she was a Fellow at the Tanner Humanities Center at the University of Utah and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow.

Acknowledgements
Introduction
A Stagnant Atmosphere
The Weather Services before World War II
Toward a More Dynamic Atmosphere
Discipline Development in the Interwar Period (1919-1938)
An Expanding Atmosphere
The War Years (1939-1945)
Initial Atmospheric Conditions
Scientific Goals, Civilian Manpower, and Military Funding (1944-1948)
An International Atmosphere
Carl-Gustav Rossby and the Scandinavian Connection (1948-1950)
Creating a Realistic Atmosphere (1950-1952)
A Changing Atmosphere
From Developmental to Operational Numerical Weather Prediction (1952-1955)
A New Atmosphere
Notes
Bibliography
Index