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Meteorology Essay

1755 words - 7 pages


There are many different forms of weather on planet Earth. Some that accur day-to-day and others tah accur on a more rare basis. Weather is a very broad topic but can be broken down. In my composition, I will explain three types of weather: Lightning, Ice Storms, and Hurricanes. The reson I chose these three topics is to inform people about the different types of weather. Some of it we may already know. But there are others that we know nothing about.
     Lightning has been feared as an atmospheric flash of supernatural origin. The Greeks marveled and feared lightning as it was hurled by Zeus. For the Vikings, lightning was produced by Thor as his hammer struck an anvil while riding his chariot across the clouds. In the East, early statues of Buddha show him carrying a thunderbolt with arrows at each end. Indian tribes in North America believed that lightning was due to the flashing feathers of a mystical bird whose flapping wings produced the sound of thunder. Today we use a more scientific approach to explain lightning. Lightning is a visible electrical discharge that results from the buildup of positive and negative charges within a thunderstorm. When the buildup is strong enough, lightning appears. This discharge produces a series of brilliant flashes inside clouds, between the clouds, and between the clouds and the ground. The average time interval between each stroke is approximately 0.02 seconds. Each stroke lasts, on average, 0.25 seconds. It is estimated that there are 2,000 thunderstorms occurring on earth at all times. This results in 100 lightning strikes occurring around the world every second, totaling 8.6 million strikes per day and over three billion each year. Lightning originates in a thunderstorm cloud where charged particles are separated. There are several theories explaining how they separate, but no one really knows what pulls the charges apart. It is believed that water drops in the cloud become negatively charged and, being heavier, fall to the bottom of the cloud. The positive charges are then swept up to the top of the cloud by the warm updrafts in the thunderhead. As more charges separate, parts of the cloud become so highly charged that the electrical forces tear nearby air molecules apart, making more charged fragments.
     There are also many types of lightning. Cloud-to-ground lightning is the most damaging and dangerous form of lightning. Although it is not the most common type, representing only 20% of all lightning strikes, it is the one which is most understood. Most flashes originate near the lower negative charge center and deliver negative charge to the Earth. Some suggest that cloud-to-ground lightning strikes occur most at higher latitudes. Others suggest that cloud top height is a more important variable than latitude. Forked lightning is composed of crooked or branched channels. These bolts may discharge from a cloud to the ground, to another...

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