Meteorology is a science that focuses on the atmosphere, weather, and weather forecasting. So the name alone will give you an idea what World Meteorological Day is about.Meteorology (mee-tee-or-ALL-oh-gee) is made up of two words. The first is an ancient Greek word meaning high in the sky. To that is added ology, which means the study of.World Meteorological Day occurs on March 23 each year. It was started in 1961 by an agency that’s part of the United Nations. The agency is called the  World Meteorological Organization and is often referred to by its initials, WMO.Each year for World Meteorological Day, the WMO chooses a theme. The theme for this year is: The Future of Weather, Climate and Water across Generations.Let’s talk about three parts of this year‘s theme: weather, climate, and water.Weather is the state of the atmosphere in a location over a short period of time. By short, think minutes, days, or maybe a month. Want to know what the weather is right now? Step outside.Climate describes weather conditions over a long time (30 years or more) and over a larger area.Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get. For example, we expect winters in Maine to be cold, because for years and years they have been cold. However, that’s not to say we can’t sometimes have a mild winter or get  a warm day in January.We know what the climate of an area is because weather information is collected for a long period of time. What sorts of information? Precipitation (such as rain and snow), temperature, humidity (amount of moisture or water in the air), sunshine, wind speeds, fog, and frost, to name just some of the things that are recorded. If in the last 50 years, an area has had very little snow, it could be said that the climate in that area is not snowy.The third part of this year’s theme is water. Fresh water is important to human life. It is impossible to live if there is no drinking water. If an area is too wet or too dry, crops may not grow. In Maine, if there is not much rain or snow, people’s wells dry up.There are concerns these days because climate is changing around the world. On one hand, that’s what climate does over time, it changes. However, it’s believed that people are doing things that are making the climate change faster than normal and in unhealthy ways. These concerns are called Climate Change. Though the WMO is very interested in Climate Change, that topic is not the focus of this article.One of the things that the WMO does is collect weather information and make it available to weather forecasters in around 187 countries.In the United States, we have another agency that helps us track weather and climate. It’s called the National Weather Service.When you watch a weather forecast for your area, part of what the weather person is able to tell you is due to information received from the National Weather Service and the WMO.In the past, bad weather caught people off guard. Today, we have technology to help us know ahead of time when bad weather is brewing, so we can be prepared. We have many tools available – satellites, weather balloons, and computer simulations to name just three – that help with weather forecasting.World Meteorological Day would be a good time to learn more about how these tools work.Fun Facts•  You may have noticed that meteorology contains the word meteor. When a rock is out in space, it’s called a meteoroid. When it hits Earth’s atmosphere and makes a burning streak of light, it’s called a meteor. Once it hits the ground, it’s called a meteorite.•  An old saying about the weather – red sky at morning, sailors take warning; red sky at night, sailors delight •  is taken from a passage in the Bible –  Matthew 16:2-3.

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