A | B |
C | D |
E | F |
G | H |
I | J |
K | L |
M | N |
O | P |
Q | R |
S | T |
U | V |
W | X |
Y | Z
- Atmospheric conditions devoid of wind or any other air motion. In oceanic
terms, it is the apparent absence of motion of the water surface when there
is no wind or swell.
- In meteorology, it is the amount
of heat required to raise the temperature of one (1) gram of water one (1) degree Celsius. It is a unit of heat energy.
- Composed of a layer of warmer, dryer air aloft which may suppress or delay the development of thunderstorms. As an air parcel rises into this area, it becomes too cool to rise further. Also referred to as a lid.
- Acroymn for Convective Available Potential
Energy. The amount of energy available to create convection, with higher values
increasing the possibility for severe weather.
- CAPE VERDE ISLANDS
- A group of volcanic islands in the eastern Atlantic Ocean off the coast of West Africa. A
Cape Verde hurricane originates near here.
- CARBON DIOXIDE (CO2)
- A heavy, colorless gas that is the fourth most abundant constituent of dry air. It comprises 0.033%.
- CATALINA EDDY
- A weak low pressure circulation that may form off the Southern California coast.
- The lowest cloud layer that is reported as broken or overcast. If the sky is totally obscured, then it is the height of the vertical visibility. See
measured ceiling and
- CEILING LIGHT
- An instrument consisting of a drum and an optical system that projects a narrow vertical
beam of light onto a cloud base.
- An instrument that is used to measure the angular elevation of a projected light on the base
of a cloud. It measures the angle of the cloud base included by the observer (or machine), the ceiling light and the illuminated spot on the cloud.
- CELESTIAL EQUATOR
- The projection of the plane of the geographical
equator upon the
- CELESTIAL SPHERE
- The apparent sphere of infinite radius having the earth as it center. All heavenly bodies
(planets, stars, etc.) appear on the "inner surface" of this sphere and the
sun moves along the ecliptic.
- CELSIUS TEMPERATURE SCALE
- A temperature scale where water at sea level has a freezing point of 0 degrees C (Celsius) and a boiling point of +100 degrees C. More commonly used in areas that observe the metric system of measurement. Created by Anders Celsius in 1742. Same as
Centigrade. In 1948, the Ninth General Conference on Weights and Measures replaced "degree
centigrade" with "degree Celsius."
- CENTRAL PRESSURE
- The atmospheric pressure at the center of a high or low. It is the highest pressure in a high and the lowest pressure in a low, referring to the sea level pressure of the system on a surface chart.
- CENTRIFUGAL FORCE
- The apparent force in a rotating system that deflects masses radially outward from the axis
of rotation. This force increases towards the
equator and decreases towards the
poles. This force on the earth and
in the atmosphere due to the rotation
about the earth's axis is incorporated with the field of
gravitation to form
- CHARLES' LAW
- States that when the pressure
is held constant, the volume of a gas varies directly with the
temperature. Therefore, if the
pressure remains constant, the volume of a gas will increase with the increase
of temperature. It was developed by Jacques Charles and is also known as the Charles-Guy-Lussac Law.
- A vaguely defined region of the upper atmosphere in which photochemical reactions take place. It includes the top of the stratosphere, all of the mesosphere, and
sometimes the lower part of the thermosphere.
- CHEYENNE FOG
- An upslope fog formed by the westward flow of air from the Missouri River Valley, producing fog on the eastern slopes of the Rockies.
- A type of foehn wind.
Refers to the warm downslope
wind in the Rocky Mountains that may occur after an intense
cold spell when the
temperature could rise by 20 to 40
degrees Fahrenheit in a matter of
minutes. Also known as the Snow Eater.
- CHOCOLATTA NORTH
- A West Indian gale that blows from the northwest.
- A thin layer of relatively transparent gases above the photosphere of the sun. It is observed best during a total eclipse of the sun.
- The flow or motion of a fluid in or through a given area or volume. In meteorology, it is the pattern of air as it moves, generally observed as a large flow characteristic of a relatively permanent pressure system in the atmosphere. Also viewed as smaller patterns in semi-permanent pressure systems. In oceanic terms, it is used to describe a water in current flow within a large area, usually a closed circular pattern such as in the North Atlantic.
- CIRCULATION CELLS
- Large areas of air movement created by the rotation of the earth and the transfer of heat from the equator polarward. Circulation is confined to a specific region, such as the tropics, temperate, or polar, that influences the type of weather prevailing there.
- Clouds composed of small particles, mostly ice crystals. Because the particles are fairly widely dispersed, this usually results in relative transparency and whiteness, often producing a halo phenomena not observed in other clouds forms. These clouds generally have bases above 20,000 feet in the mid-latitudes, and are classified as high clouds. They include all varieties of cirrus, cirrocumulus, and cirrostratus clouds.
- A cirriform cloud with vertical
development, appearing as a thin sheet of small white puffs which give it a
rippled effect. It often creates a "mackerel sky",
since the ripples may look like fish scales. Sometimes it is confused with altocumulus, however, it has smaller individual masses and does not cast a shadow on other elements. It is also the least common cloud type, often forming from cirrus or
cirrostratus, with which it is associated
in the sky.
- A cirriform cloud that develops
from cirrus spreading out into a thin
layer, creating a flat sheetlike appearance. It can give the
sky a slightly milky or veiled look.
When viewed from the surface of the earth, these
ice crystals can create a
halo effect around the sun or moon.
This cloud is a good precursor of
precipitation, indicating it may occur
within 12 to 24 hours.
- One of the three basic cloud forms (the others are cumulus and stratus). It is also one of the three high cloud types. Cirrus are thin, wispy clouds composed of ice crystals and often appear as veil patches or strands. In the mid-latitudes, cloud bases are usually found between 20,000 to 30,000 feet, and it is the highest cloud that forms in the sky, except for the tops, or anvils, of cumulonimbus, which occasionally build to excessive heights.
- CIVIL TWILIGHT
- The time between the moment of sunset, when the sun's apparent upper edge is just at the horizon, until the center of the sun is 6 degrees directly below the horizon. See twilight.
- The state of the sky when no clouds or obscurations are observed or detected from the point of observation.
- CLEAR AIR TURBULENCE
- Name given to turbulence that may
occur in perfectly clear air without any
visual in warning in the form of clouds.
It is often found in the vicinity of the jet
stream where large shears in the
horizonal and vertical are found, although this turbulence is not limited just
to jet stream locale. Other areas where it may occur include near mountains,
in closed lows aloft, and because
of wind shear. Often referred to
- CLEAR ICE
- A glossy, clear, or translucent
ice formed by the relatively slow
freezing of large
supercooled in water droplets. The
droplets spread out over an object, such as an aircraft wing's leading edge,
prior to complete freezing and forms a sheet of clear ice. Often
synonymous with glaze.
- The historical record and description of average daily and in seasonal weather events that help describe a region. Statistics are generally drawn over several decades. The word is derived from the Greek klima, meaning inclination, and reflects the importance early scholars attributed to the sun's influence.
- CLIMATE ANALYSIS CENTER (CAC)
- The U.S. National Weather Service division that applies new technology and approaches to the analysis, diagnois, and projection of short term climate fluctuations on a regional and global basis. For further information, contact the CAC, located in Camp Spring, Maryland.
- CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER (CPC)
- A branch of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, the Center maintains a continuous watch on short-term climate fluctuations and diagnoses and predicts them. For further information, contact the CPC, located in Washington, D.C.
- The study of climate. It includes climatic data, the analysis of the causes of the differences in climate, and the application of climatic data to the solution of specific design or operational problems.
- An instrument used to measure angles of inclination. Used in conjunction
with a ceiling light, it determines
cloud height at night, based on the angle of a projected light on the clouds, the observer, and the ceiling light.
- CLOSED LOW
- A low pressure system that is
completely encircled by an isobar.
They often move slowly, as they displaced south of the main
westerlies. Although, strictly
speaking, all lows are closed, this term distinguishes a low from a
trough on a surface chart, and on
upper level charts, it accentuates
that the circulation is "closed." A form of cut-off low.
- A visible collection of minute particle matter, such as water droplets and/or ice crystals, in the free air. A cloud forms in the atmosphere as a result of condensation of water vapor in rising currents of air. They may also form from the evaporation of fog. Condensation nuclei, such as in smoke or dust particles, form a surface upon which water vapor can condense.
- CLOUD BANK
- A well-defined cloud mass that can be observed at a distance. It covers the horizon, but is not directly overhead.
- A sudden, heavy rainfall of a showery nature. See downburst.
- The merging of two water drops into a single larger drop.
- A condition marked by low or decidely subnormal temperature. The lack of heat.
- COLD ADVECTION
- The horizontal movement of colder air into a location. Contrast with warm advection.
- COLD AIR FUNNEL
- Funnel clouds, usually short-lived, that develop from relatively small showers or thunderstorms when the air aloft is very in cold. Cold air funnels may touch down briefly, but in general are less violent than most other types of tornadoes.
- COLD CORE THUNDERSTORMS
- Thunderstorms formed primarily due to steep lapse rates, especially when very cold air aloft overlies warmer surface air.
- COLD FRONT
- The leading edge of an advancing cold air mass
that is underrunning and displacing the warmer air in its path. Generally, with
the passage of a cold front, the temperature
and humidity decrease, the
pressure rises, and the
wind shifts (usually from the
southwest to the northwest in the Northern Hemisphere).
Precipitation is generally at and/or
behind the front, and with a
fast-moving system, a squall line may
develop ahead of the front. See occluded front and warm front.
- COLD HIGH
- A high pressure system that has its coldest temperatures at or near the center of circulation, and horizontally, is thermally barotropic. It is shallow in nature, as circulation decreases with height. Associated with cold Arctic air, it is usually
stationary. Also known as a cold core high. Contrast with a warm high.
- COLD LOW
- A low pressure system that has its coldest temperatures at or near the center of circulation, and horizontally, is thermally barotropic. Both warmth and in circulation increase with height and usually there is a warm low aloft to support it. Also known as a cold core low. A cut off low is an example, where an isolated pool of colder air is located south of the main westerlies.
- COLD WAVE
- A rapid fall in temperature within twenty-four hours to temperatures requiring substantially increased protection to agriculture, industry, commerce, and social activities. National Weather Service criteria includes the rate of temperature fall and the minimum to which it falls, depending on the region of the country and time of the in year. The Weather Channel uses the following criteria for a cold wave: a cold spell of two days or more with below normal temperatures in at least fifteen states, with at least five of them more than fifteen degrees below normal.
- A strong, steady wind blowing from the north or northwest in the upper part of the Gulf of California and from the northeast in the lower part.
- COLORADO LOW
- A low pressure disturbance that forms in the lee of the Rocky Mountains, usually in southeastern Colorado.
- COMMA CLOUD
- A feature seen on satellite photographs with a distinctive comma-shape. This is indicative of a synoptic cloud pattern associated with large, well-developed low pressure systems.
- The process by which water vapor undergoes a change in state from a gas to a liquid. The following conditions must be met: the in air must be cooled to its
dew point, and there must be enough water vapor added to bring the air to the point of saturation, raising the relative humidity to 100%. It is the opposite physical process of evaporation.
- CONDENSATION FUNNEL
- A funnel-shaped cloud consisting of condensed water drops that has possible rotation.
- CONDENSATION NUCLEI
- A particle upon which condensation of water vapor occurs. It may be either in a solid or liquid state.
- CONDITIONAL INSTABILITY
- Stable unsaturated air that will result in instability in the event or on the condition that the air becomes saturated. If the air is
saturated, it is considered unstable; if air is unsaturated, it is considered stable.
- The transfer of heat through a substance by molecular action or from one substance by being in contact with another.
- A pattern of air flow in which wind direction converges along an axis oriented parallel to the flow along the axis. Considered a form of convergence. The opposite of diffluence.
- CONSTANT PRESSURE CHART
- A chart of a constant pressure surface in which atmospheric pressure is uniform everywhere at any given moment. Elements may include analyses of height above sea level, wind, temperature, and humidity.
- CONSTANT PRESSURE SURFACE
- A surface along which the atmospheric pressure is equal everywhere.
- A large land mass rising abruptly from the deep
ocean floor, including marginal
regions that are shallowly submerged. Continents constitute about one-third
of the earth's surface.
- CONTINENTAL AIR MASS
- An air mass with
continental characteristics. It
is a secondary characteristic of an air mass classification, signified by the
small "c" before the primary characteristic, which is based on source region.
For example, cP is an air mass that is continental
polar in nature.
- CONTINENTAL SHELF
- The zone around the continents
extending from the low-water mark seaward, typically ending in steep slope to
the depths of the ocean floor.
- Acroymn for CONdensation TRAIL. A cloudlike streamer or trail often seen behind aircraft flying in clear, cold, humid air. A vapor trail is created when the water vapor from the engine exhaust gases are added to the atmosphere. Also called a vapor trail.
- The mass motion within a fluid, resulting in the transport and mixing of the properties of
that fluid. This could be the transport of heat and/or moisture. It is often used to imply only upward vertical motion and then it is the opposite of subsidence.
- CONVECTIVE CONDENSATION LEVEL (CCL)
- The height at which a parcel of air, if heated sufficiently from below, will rise
adiabatically until it is just saturated.
- Wind movement that results in a horizontal net inflow of air into a particular region. Convergent winds at lower levels are associated with upward motion. Contrast with divergence.
- COOLING DEGREE DAY
- A cooling degree day is given for
each degree that the daily mean
temperature departs above the baseline of 75 degrees Fahrenheit. It is used to estimate the energy requirements, and is an indication of fuel consumption for air conditioning or refrigeration.
Refer to degree day or
heating degree day.
- CORIOLIS EFFECT
- A force per unit mass that arises solely from the earth's in rotation, acting as a deflecting
force. It is dependent on the latitude and the speed of the moving air mass. In the Northern Hemisphere, air is deflected to the right of its path, while in the Southern Hemisphere, air is deflected to the left of its path. It is greatest at the poles, North and South, and almost nonexistent at the equator.
- The prevailing evening land breeze which takes place from November to May in the vicinity of La Paz, at the southern tip of Baja California, Mexico.
- A pastel halo around the moon or sun created by the diffraction of water droplets. The droplets in
the cloud, such as cirrostratus, and the cloud layer itself must be almost perfectly uniform in order for this phenomena to occur. The color display sometimes appears to be iridescent.
- A luminous, and often audible, electric discharge that is intermediate in nature. It occurs
from objects, especially pointed ones, when the electrical field strength near their surfaces attains
a value near 1000 volts per centimeter. It often occurs during stormy weather and might be seen on a ship's mast or yardarm, aircraft, lightning rods, and steeples. Also known as corona discharge or St. Elmo's Fire.
- CREPUSCULAR RAYS
- Contrasting, alternating bright and dark rays in the sky. Sunlight is scattered by molecules and particles rendering these bright rays visible. Contrast is enhanced by haze, dust, or mist. These rays are more likely to be seen in the late afternoon, as cumulus clouds come between the sun and the observer. A similar effect occurs when the sun shines though a break in a layer of clouds.
- The process of a substance going directly from a vapor form (water vapor) to a solid (ice) at the same temperature, without going through the liquid phase (water). The opposite of sublimation.
- Clouds composed of water droplets that exhibit vertical development. The density of the droplets often blocks sunlight, casting shadows on the earth's surface. With increasing vertical height, they are often associated with convection. Bases of these clouds are generally no more than 3,000 feet above the ground, but they can develop past the troposphere in both temperate and tropical latitudes. They are classified as low clouds, and include all varieties of cumulus and cumulonimbus. The opposite in type are the horizontal development of stratiform clouds.
- A vertically developed cumulus cloud, often capped by an anvil-shaped cirriform cloud. Also called a thunderstorm cloud, it is frequently accompanied by heavy showers, lightning, thunder, and sometimes hail, tornadoes or strong, gusty winds.
- CUMULONIMBUS MAMMATUS
- A portion of a cumulonimbus cloud that appears as a pouch or udder on the under surface of the cloud. Although they do not cause severe weather, they often accompany storms. Located under the anvil area of most storms, it may slowly vary in size, since it is an area of negative buoyance convection, and is associated with severe turbulence in the lower sections of the cloud. Formerly called mammatocumulus.
- One of the three basic cloud forms (the others are cirrus and stratus). It is also one of the two low cloud types. A cloud that develops in a vertical direction from the base (bottom) up. They have flat bases and dome- or cauliflower-shaped upper surfaces. The base of the cloud is often no more than 3,000 feet above the ground, but the top often varies in height. Small, separate cumulus are associated with fair weather (cumulus humilis). With additional heating from the earth's surface, they can grow vertically throughout the day. The top of such a cloud can easily reach 20,000 or more into the troposphere. Under certain atmospheric conditions, these clouds can develop into larger clouds, known as towering cumulus (cumulus congestus), and may produce a rain shower. Further development may create a cumulonimbus.
- CUMULUS CONGESTUS
- A strongly sprouting cumulus cloud with generally sharp outlines and often with great vertical development. It may occur as tower-like clouds with cauliflower tops. These clouds may produce abundant showers and may develop further into cumulonimbus. Also known as towering cumulus.
- CUMULUS FRACTUS
- Cumulus clouds that appear in irregular fragments, as if they had been shred or torn. Also appears in stratus clouds (called stratus fractus), but not in cirrus clouds.
- CUMULUS HUMILIS
- Cumulus clouds with little or no vertical development
characterized by a generally flat appearance. Their growth is usually limited by a temperature inversion, which is marked by the unusually uniform height of the clouds. Also called fair-weather cumulus.
- CUMULUS MEDIOCRIS
- Cumulus clouds characterized by moderate vertical development with upper protuberances not very marked in appearance. This cloud does not produce precipitation, but could develop into towering cumulus or cumulonimbus which do.
- A horizontal movement of water, such as the Gulf Stream off the east coast of North America, or air, such as the jet stream.
- CUT-OFF HIGH
- A warm high which has become displaced and is on the polarward side of the jet stream. It occurs mostly during the spring and is most frequent over northeastern Siberia, Alaska, and Greenland. It is an example of a blocking high.
- CUT-OFF LOW
- A cold low which has become displaced and is on the equatorward side of the jet stream. It frequently occurs during the spring and is often located over the southwestern
United States and along the northwestern coast of Africa.
- The process that creates a new low pressure system or cyclone, or intensifies a pre-existing one. It is also the first appearance of a trough.
- An area of closed pressure circulation with rotating and converging winds, the center of which is a relative pressure minimum. The circulation is counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. Also called a low pressure system and the term used for a tropical cyclone in the Indian Ocean. Other phenomena with cyclonic flow may be referred to by this term, such as dust devils, tornadoes, and tropical and extratropical systems. The opposite of an anticyclone or a high pressure system.
- CYCLONIC FLOW
- Winds that blow in and around a cyclone, that is counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere, clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.
Top of Page
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