Meteorology is the interdisciplinary scientific study of the atmosphere. It is often regarded as part of Earth Sciences.  Studies in the field stretch back millennia, though significant progress in meteorology did not occur until the 18th century. 


Cumulus clouds a typical phenomena investigated by meteorology. image: R.Conan-Davies

The 19th century saw modest progress in the field after observing networks formed across several countries. 

It wasn't until after the development of the computer in the latter half of the 20th century that significant breakthroughs in weather forecasting were achieved.

Weather phenomena and scale

Meteorological phenomena are observable weather events which illuminate, and are explained by the science of meteorology. 

Those events are bound by the variables that exist in Earth's atmosphere; 

  • temperature,
  • air pressure,
  • sunlight, 
  • water vapour (humidity), and 
  • the gradients and interactions of each variable, and 
  • how they change in time. 

Different spatial scales are studied to determine how systems on local, regional, and global levels impact weather and climatology.

A typical Australian synoptic chart shows the results of meteorological analysis as a prediction of up coming weather conditions. image:

Sub disciplines and areas of study

Meteorology, climatology, atmospheric physics, and atmospheric chemistry are sub-disciplines of the atmospheric sciences. Meteorology and hydrology compose the interdisciplinary field of hydrometeorology.

Interactions between Earth's atmosphere and the oceans are part of coupled ocean-atmosphere studies. Meteorology has application in many diverse fields such as the military, energy technology, transport, agriculture and construction.

Word origin of meteorology 

The word "meteorology" is from Greek μετέωρος metéōros "lofty; high (in the sky)" (from μετα- meta- "above" and ἀείρω aeiro "I lift up") and -λογία -logia "-(o)logy".