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Weather is an all-encompassing term used to describe all of the many and varied phenomena that occur in the atmosphere of a planet at a given time. The term usually refers to the activity of these phenomena over short periods of hours or days, as opposed to the term climate, which refers to the average atmospheric conditions over longer periods of time. When used without qualification, "weather" is understood to be the weather of Earth.

Weather most often results from temperature differences from one place to another, caused by the Sun heating areas near the equator more than the poles, or by different areas of the Earth absorbing varying amounts of heat, due to differences in albedo, moisture, and cloud cover. Surface temperature differences in turn cause pressure differences. A hot surface heats the air above it and the air expands, lowering the air pressure. The resulting pressure gradient accelerates the air from high to low pressure, creating wind, and Earth's rotation causes curvature of the flow via the Coriolis effect. These simple systems can interact, producing more complex systems, and thus other weather phenomena.

The strong temperature contrast between polar and tropical air gives rise to the jet stream. Most weather phenomena in the mid-latitudes are caused by instabilities of the jet stream flow (see baroclinity) or by weather fronts. Weather systems in the tropics are caused by different processes, such as monsoons or organized thunderstorm systems.

Because the Earth's axis is tilted relative to its orbital plane, sunlight is incident at different angles at different times of the year. In June the Northern Hemisphere is tilted towards the sun, while in December it is tilted away, causing yearly changes in the weather known as seasons. In the mid-latitudes, winter weather often includes snow and sleet, while in both the mid-latitudes and most of the tropics, tropical cyclones form in the summer and autumn. Almost all weather phenomena can occur year-round on different parts of the planet, including snow, rain, lightning, and, more rarely, hail and tornadoes.

Related portals: Earth sciences (Atmosphere  · Atmospheric Sciences)  · Tropical cyclones Featured article  · Disasters  · Water

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This dust storm occurred around Spearman, Texas on April 14, 1935. This was in the heart of the Dust Bowl, a period of severe dust storms and drought, which contributed to the Great Depression in the United States.

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Global warming is the increase in the average temperature of the Earth's near-surface air and oceans in recent decades and its projected continuation.

The global average air temperature near the Earth's surface rose 0.74 ± 0.18 °C (1.33 ± 0.32 °F) during the 100 year period ending in 2005. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes "most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations" via the greenhouse effect. Natural phenomena such as solar variation combined with volcanoes probably had a small warming effect from pre-industrial times to 1950 and a small cooling effect from 1950 onward. These basic conclusions have been endorsed by at least 30 scientific societies and academies of science, including all of the national academies of science of the major industrialized countries. While individual scientists have voiced disagreement with the conclusions of the IPCC, the overwhelming majority of scientists working on climate change are in agreement with the conclusions.

Climate model projections summarized by the IPCC indicate that average global surface temperature will likely rise a further during the 21st century. The range of values results from the use of differing scenarios of future greenhouse gas emissions as well as models with differing climate sensitivity. Although most studies focus on the period up to 2100, warming and sea level rise are expected to continue for more than a thousand years even if greenhouse gas levels are stabilized. The delay in reaching equilibrium is a result of the large heat capacity of the oceans.

Increasing global temperature will cause sea level to rise, and is expected to increase the intensity of extreme weather events and to change the amount and pattern of precipitation. Other effects of global warming include changes in agricultural yields, trade routes, glacier retreat, species extinctions and increases in the ranges of disease vectors.

Remaining scientific uncertainties include the amount of warming expected in the future, and how warming and related changes will vary from region to region around the globe. There is ongoing political and public debate worldwide regarding what, if any, action should be taken to reduce or reverse future warming or to adapt to its expected consequences. Most national governments have signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol, aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and outside of the United States there is considerably less debate over the effects and uncertainties of global warming.

Global mean surface temperature anomaly 1850 to 2006 relative to 1961-1990

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Did you know...

...that Hurricane Debbie is the only known tropical cyclone ever to strike Ireland?

...that the Tempest Prognosticator, one of the earliest attempts at a weather prediction device, employed live leeches in its operation?

...that eyewall replacement cycles are among the biggest challenges in forecasting tropical cyclone intensity?

...that the Braer Storm of January 1993 is likely the strongest extratropical cyclone ever recorded in the north Atlantic Ocean?

...that in medieval lore, Tempestarii are magicians with the power to control the weather?

...that the omega equation is essential to numerical weather prediction?

Recent and ongoing weather

This week in weather history...

February 13

2006: Cyclone Vaianu reached peak intensity near Tonga.

February 14

2007: The Valentine's Day Storm hit its peak over the eastern half of North America. Up to 48 in (120 cm) of snow fell in Vermont and 37 people were killed. The storm system also spawned a small tornado outbreak, killing one person near New Orleans.

2011: Cyclone Bingiza made landfall in northeastern Madagascar, killing 22 people.

February 15

2009: Cyclone Innis formed near Vanuatu.

February 16

1962: Severe flooding began overnight on the north shore of Germany, particularly in Hamburg, killing more than 300 people.

2005: Cyclone Olaf struck areas of American Samoa, causing severe damage.

February 17

1959: Vanguard 2, the first weather satellite, was launched, carrying a device to measure daytime cloud cover.

2003: A large snow storm dropped 15 inches (38 cm) - 30 inches (76 cm) of snow from Washington, D.C. to Boston.

2010: An avalanche killed 110 people in the Kohistan District, North West Frontier Province, Pakistan

February 18

1972: Mount Rainier finished the snowiest one-year period ever recorded. From February 19, 1971 to February 18, 1972, 102 feet (33.1 meters) of snow fell near the summit.

2003: The "White Juan" blizzard caused record snowfall over the eastern provinces of Canada.

February 19

1884: The Enigma tornado outbreak began, so named because records detailing the outbreak are very scarce. It may have been the worst tornado outbreak in United States history, producing at least 60 tornadoes, $60 million (2006 USD) in damage, and killing hundreds, perhaps more than 1000 people.

2012: An avalanche at Stevens Pass, Washington caught a group of people, including some of the best free skiers and snowboarders in the country, killing three.

2015: Cyclone Lam and Cyclone Marcia, both severe tropical cyclones, struck Northern Territory and Queensland, Australia respectively on the same day.

Selected biography

John Park Finley (April 11, 1854 - November 24, 1943) was an American meteorologist and Army Signal Service officer who was the first person to study tornadoes intensively. He wrote the first known scientific book on the subject of tornadoes, as well as many other manuals and booklets. He was responsible for the first national network for reporting tornado touchdowns and outbreaks, and kept an archive of tornado reports from across the United States. He also collected vast climatological data, set up a nationwide weather observer network, started one of the first private weather enterprises, and opened an early aviation weather school.

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WikiProject Meteorology is a collaborative effort by dozens of Wikipedians to improve the quality of meteorology- and weather-related articles. If you would like to help, visit the project talk page, and see what needs doing.

WikiProject Severe weather is a similar project specific to articles about severe weather. Their talk page is located here.

WikiProject Tropical cyclones is a daughter project of WikiProject meteorology. The dozens of semi-active members and several full-time members focus on improving Wikipdia's coverage of tropical cyclones.

WikiProject Non-tropical storms is a collaborative project to improve articles related to winter storms, wind storms, and extratropical weather.

Wikipedia is a fully collaborative effort by volunteers. So if you see something you think you can improve, be bold and get to editing! We appreciate any help you can provide!

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