Marine Meteorology – Weather Forecasts and Atmospheric Conditions at Sea Level
New York (USA), October 28, 2012
Marine Meteorology and Sailing
Marine meteorology is the study of marine atmosphere. This influences overall atmospheric conditions above and below the oceans. Before setting sail and during sailing cruises, weather plays a prominent role in deciding when to set sail, when to anchor, or how to counter-react and tackle difficult sailing conditions.
American naval officer Lieutenant Matthew Fontaine Maury founded Marine meteorology at an international meeting in Brussels in 1853. This resulted in the setting up of International Meteorological Organization, now known as World Meteorological Organization. It facilitated a standardized system of reporting weather at sea and around coastlines. Technological improvements over the years and computerized predictions available through remote sensing have made it possible to get weather forecasts many weeks in advance to plan your sailing expeditions.
Weather at any particular place depends on difference of radiant energy received at poles and tropics. Warm air at tropics rises and cool air from poles comes in. This convectional pattern continues with winds in lower atmosphere blowing towards equator while winds from upper atmosphere blow towards poles. At the latitudes, pattern changes due to action of Coriolis force and airflow breaks up into many series of circulatory winds.
Latitudinal winds decide weather patterns. The horse latitudes at 30° are high-pressure zones. Cyclonic and anti-cyclonic pressure systems at temperate latitudes change weather patterns. At 60°, low-pressure system prevails and high-pressure exists at the poles. There are regular fluctuations in temperatures between latitudes. This creates climate cycles.
Water plays an equally important role in deciding weather patterns. Evaporation of water vapor from ocean surface cools sea temperature and warms atmosphere. As warm air rises, it cools down due to atmospheric pressure and forms clouds.
Onshore winds around coastal hills and mountains go up and form clouds along the coast. While sailing, clouds on the horizon indicate land is nearby. Clouds shield ocean surface from sun’s heat. Winds help in quicker exchange of heat across the ocean surface. Swift exchange of heat across tropics generates tropical storms.
All theoretically derived forecasts depend on regular verification available through Voluntary Observing Ship Program. This decides your sailing pattern.
Guide to Sailing and Ocean Cruising in a Medium Sized Yacht
The Complete Reference Guide to Sailing and Ocean Cruising in a Medium Sized Yacht