Atmospheric Processes that Give Rise to Weather Disturbances
Studies of the Earth’s atmosphere provide information on how the Earth’s natural processes result in different weather conditions and phenomena. Certain atmospheric processes, like the transfer of heat energy and water moisture, are capable of giving rise to turbulent weather disturbances that visit our regions in the form of hurricanes, cyclones, or tornadoes. Definitions and differences between each weather phenomenon are easier to understand if we know how these processes take place.
The transfer of heat energy referred to here is about the sun’s radiation and how it transports energy via electromagnetic waves. This type of energy creates air pressure as it heats up the vast ocean, and other bodies of water. It is the initial phase of an atmospheric process, which we know as the water cycle, wherein water is vaporized when heat energy touches the ocean’s surface. This means that part of the water breaks down into its gaseous form and combines with all the other gasses already present in the atmosphere. Some of these gasses will later form clouds, and precipitate into water, which falls back to Earth in the form of rain.
While these two aspects of heat energy and moisture transfers take place, some molecules create air masses and air parcels, in large or small scales. Vertical motions, originating from radiated energy, create air pressures that cause these air masses and air parcels to surge-up. As the Earth rotates, the sun’s heat lessens; hence, the air pressure naturally goes downwards. Air pressure is constant in the atmosphere, but tends to ascend (high) or descend (low), depending on the amount of electromagnetic waves that hit the Earth. The following sections describe how weather is associated with high and low pressure areas.