Monthly Archives: July 2023

Why are cities hotter than the surrounding rural areas?

On average, the city is warmer than the countryside. This difference in temperature is referred to as the urban heat island effect. A number of factors contribute to the relative warmth of cities, such as heat from industrial activity, the thermal properties of buildings and the evaporation of water.

For example, the heat produced by heating and cooling city buildings, and running planes, trains, buses and automobiles contributes to the warmer city temperatures. Heat generated by these objects eventually makes its way into the atmosphere, adding as much as one-third of the heat received from solar energy. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology, Seasons

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Can ChatGPT forecast the weather?

Yes, ChatGPT can create weather forecasts, but the real question will be their accuracy.

People have started exploring how to use ChatGPT and other artificial intelligence methods to experiment with forecasts. This is not surprising as we have always needed weather forecasts and humans have used many techniques over the decades. Some of the earliest forms of forecasts were short rhymes, and, although memorable, were often of uneven quality. Continue reading

Category: History, Meteorology

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Winter in July?

On more than one occasion in this column we have commented on the areal extent of air colder than 23 degrees about 1 mile above the ground as a measure of the extremity of winter.

In the middle of January, about 68 million square kilometers of the Northern Hemisphere are covered by air that cold at that level. Between about July 5 and July 20 that area shrinks to zero, and the complete absence of such air lasts only a very few days. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Seasons

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Do hurricanes heat the ocean?

Hurricanes form over warm waters. The evaporation of the warm ocean waters condenses to form clouds and precipitation releasing latent heat energy that helps to maintain the storm.

A general rule of thumb is that hurricanes will not form unless the water temperature is at least 80 degrees. Photographs of hurricanes over the ocean clearly show that hurricanes churn water at the surface, mixing it with cooler waters below. Continue reading

Category: Meteorology, Tropical

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Were May and June unusually dry in Madison?

While we all contended with the remarkable and dangerous smoke in the sky this past week, we also wrapped up a record dry spell in Madison’s history.

The 61 days of May and June 2023 were the driest May and June ever, with a paltry 2.01 inches of total precipitation falling. The next closest rival on this ignominious list occurred in May and June 1992, when only 2.65 inches of rain fell during the two months. Individually, May and June were the sixth-driest May and June in Madison’s history, suggesting how rare it is for both of them to be so void of precipitation. Continue reading

Category: Climate, History, Meteorology, Seasons

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