Jamie Harris


Although the "weather" which impinges on people in their daily lives is usually perceived as a local phenomenon it must be recognized that all the weather we experience is part of an intricately interconnected global system. The global weather system circulates vast amounts of air, moisture, particulate matter and energy over the whole surface of the earth; a given mass of air in the stratosphere will circle the globe in about fifteen days at the latitude of the United States. Almost incalculable amounts of energy are absorbed into the weather system from the sun and distributed by various mechanisms. For example, heat energy representing the energy required to vaporize sea water is released by the condensation which forms precipitation. It is estimated that through condensation a single thunderstorm can release as much energy as a megaton hydrogen bomb and that there are between 1,000 and 2,000 such thunderstorms on the earth every day. Thus the energy represented by daily thunderstorms alone is almost beyond comprehension.

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