Learn About Weather

Learn About Weather is a Future Learn course run by the University of Exeter and the Met Office.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from it but I’ve really enjoyed it, racing through the four week course in less than two days.  It’s been a real mix of things and a great introduction to the weather.

It looks at the atmosphere, how changes in the earth’s temperature create weather, why weather varies across the globe, jet streams and air pressure.  It’s all been pitched at a reasonably basic level, accessible but comprehensive.

As well as the technical side of things, we’ve looked at weather lore and whether there’s any truth in sayings and beliefs.  We also shared our own local lore and I was able to include some of the bits and pieces I’ve been collecting.

  • clear moon, frost soon
  • when the mist comes from the hill, then good weather it doth spill. when the mist comes from the sea, then good weather it will be
  • if woolly fleeces spread the heavenly way, be sure no rain disturbs the summers day
  • if the cock goes crowing to bed, he’ll certainly rise with a watery head
  • the sharper the blast, the sooner it’s past
  • rainbow in the morning gives you far warning
  • ring around the moon, rain or snow soon
  • when the sun sets black, a westerly wind will not lack
  • swifts flying low, rain is on the way

I’ve learnt a lot about how air pressure affects the weather and now I have a vague idea what a weather map is saying which is quite satisfying!  I also know where our weather comes from and how it affects the UK.

Towards the end of the course it focuses in on specific aspects of weather, for example the different types of clouds, how they’re formed and what they mean in terms of rain etc.  This is something I really want to get firmly stuck in my head.  I’ve tried learning cloud names so many times and I always forget.  But the way this course has approached them, I think I have a better understanding of what the latin names mean and thus hopefully it’ll be easier to hold onto the knowledge.  I’ve also found flicking through the Cloud Appreciation gallery and trying to guess the cloud type has helped.

Naturally, we’ve also looked at rain and other forms of precipitation and what counts as a shower and what counts as rain.  Frost, storms and climate change have also all been looked at as well as how weather affects leisure activities.

I’ve found the whole course interesting and whilst I’m not planning on looking at weather in any detail just yet, I know I’ll be returning to it as part of my nature and writing project.

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