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July-August 2013

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From the Editor

Weatherwise is a magazine that is aimed at the educated weather enthusiast. In other words, we know that many of our readers are very interested in the weather, are more versed than the average member of the public in how meteorology works, but are not formally educated in the field. Because of this, we generally focus our articles not on the ABCs of weather, but on how weather affects various aspects of our lives, be they sociological, historical, economical, etc.

But every now and then, we believe, it is important to get back to basics and take a look at where we are in our knowledge of meteorology and what makes the field what it is. This issue of Weatherwise does just that … it takes a step back from our usual fare and takes a closer look at some of the basics of meteorology.

In “How to Make a Tornado,” Paul Markowski and Yvette Richardson note that much media attention has been focused on whether the number of destructive tornadoes is increasing and whether such an increase could be the result of climate change. But, they say, amid all this discussion and speculation, few have focused on just what we know about how a tornado forms and what we have learned in recent years from projects such as the Vortex2 tornado chase. We have learned so much about how these twisters form in recent years that it is important to take a step back from more in-depth analysis and remind ourselves of what exactly we know about these storms.

Two of our other features look at the technology that helps us learn about the weather on a day-to-day basis. One piece, by Jan Null, looks at “The Ubiquitous Radiosonde.” In the article, Null takes a look back at the roots of this all-important but very basic piece of meteorological equipment and reminds us of what it has helped us learn since its creation. Meanwhile, in “The National Mesonet Program: Filling in the Gaps,” John Dahlia gives us an inside look at a project to create a national mesonet system of both fixed and, for the first time, mobile mesonets to provide surface weather condition observations. These instruments will help fill in the gaps of what we know about conditions on the ground across the United States, which will help improve our current and future knowledge of weather.

Finally, in a more lighthearted piece, Garry Toth and Don Hillger trace the history of global warming awareness and science through postage stamps. This philatelic history spans the globe and ranges from remembrance of some of the earliest advocates of climate change theories to commemoration of the latest conferences on this hot topic.

I hope you enjoy this “back to basics” issue of Weatherwise—as well as our philatelic view of climate change. As always, we welcome comments from our readers.

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