Encyclopedia Britannica Illustrated Science Library 2009 – Weather and Climate

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Encyclopedia Britannica Illustrated
Science Library 2009 – Weather and Climate
Edition 2009
pages 56


Encyclopedia Britannica Illustrated
Science Library 2009 – Weather and Climate

The flutter of a butterfly’s wings in
Brazil can unleash a tornado in Florida.” That was the conclusion
arrived at in 1972 by Edward Lorenz after dedicating himself to the study of
meteorology and trying to find a way of predicting meteorological phenomena that
might put the lives of people at risk. In effect, the atmosphere is a system so
complicated that many scientists define it as chaotic. Any forecast can rapidly deteriorate
because of the wind, the appearance of a warm front, or an unexpected storm. Thus, the
difference continues to grow geometrically, and the reality of the next day is not the
,one that was expected but entirely different: when there should have been sunshine
there is rain; people who planned to go to the beach find they have to shut themselves up in the
basement until the hurricane passes. All this uncertainty causes many people who live in areas
,that are besieged by hurricanes or tropical storms to live in fear of what might happen
,because they feel very vulnerable to changes in weather. It is also true that natural phenomena
such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and cyclones, do not in themselves cause catastrophes. For
example, a hurricane becomes a disaster and causes considerable damage, deaths, and
economic losses only because it strikes a populated area or travels over farmland. Yet in
,society, the idea persists that natural phenomena equate to death and destruction. In fact
experience shows that we have to learn to live with these phenomena and plan ahead for what
might happen when they occur. In this book, along with spectacular images, you will find
useful information about the factors that determine weather and climate, and you will be
able to understand why long-term forecasts are so complicated. What changes are expected if
global warming continues to increase? Could the polar ice caps melt and raise sea levels? Could
agricultural regions slowly become deserts? All this and much more are found in the
pages of the .book. We intend to arouse your curiosity about weather and
.climate, forces that affect everyone