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The Science of Extreme Weather

The Science of Extreme Weather
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24 episodes in this series

Episode 1 Extreme Weather Is Everywhere
Survey the remarkable range of extreme weather around the planet. Then consider: Why does Earth have weather at all? Professor Snodgrass introduces basic features of the atmosphere that naturally lead…
Episode 2 Temperature Extremes and Cold-Air Outbreaks
Discover the origin of Earth's great variability in air temperature, and learn how it also explains the seasons. Search for the highest and lowest temperatures on the planet, and the…
Episode 3 Low Pressure and Earth’s High Winds
Witness a demonstration of the power of air pressure and the ability of changing pressure to produce clouds. Learn how fluctuations in air pressure play a role in all weather,…
Episode 4 Extreme Humidity, Rain, and Fog
Severe weather is driven by water's ability to change phase--with energy being released during the transition from vapor to liquid, and from liquid to ice. Calculate the stupendous amount of…
Episode 5 How Radar Reveals Storms
In this and the next lecture, study the advanced technology that has revolutionized extreme weather forecasting. Here, look at how radar has vastly improved the prediction of tornadic thunderstorms. You've…
Episode 6 How Satellites Track Severe Weather
Venture into space to see how different types of weather satellites chart large-scale extreme weather systems in both daylight and darkness. Compare two nearly identical hurricanes--one in 1900, the other…
Episode 7 Anatomy of a Lightning Strike
Moment for moment, the one billion volts discharged in a typical lightning strike may be the most extreme of all weather phenomena. Watch lightning unfold in super-slow motion, and gain…
Episode 8 Lightning Extremes and Survival
Investigate positive polarity lighting--a bolt up to ten times more powerful than normal lightning--which accounts for five percent of cloud-to-ground strikes. Then hear life-saving tips on how to recognize when…
Episode 9 Thunderstorm Formation and Weather Balloons
Begin a series of lectures on thunderstorms, which are the key to understanding many types of extreme weather. Learn how thunderstorms are forecast, and explore their formation by following a…
Episode 10 Wind Shear and Severe Thunderstorms
Wind shear is the ingredient that turns an ordinary thunderstorm into a monster. Study the mechanisms that underlie this transformation. Then evaluate the crucial difference between a severe weather watch…
Episode 11 Squall Line Thunderstorms and Microbursts
Heralded by an ominous-looking formation called a shelf cloud, a squall line is a group of thunderstorms that produces intense, destructive winds. Analyze the anatomy of a squall line, so…
Episode 12 Supercell Thunderstorms and Hail
Pound for pound, the supercell is the most powerful thunderstorm on Earth. Explore the mechanics of this system, which produces the strongest straight-line winds, the most violent tornadoes, and the…
Episode 13 Tornadoes and Their Amazing Winds
Tornadoes hit all 50 states of the U.S. and most inhabited regions of the world. Blowing as fast as 200 to 300 mph, they are the most awe-inspiring of extreme…
Episode 14 Tornadogenesis and Storm Chasing
The genesis of tornadoes takes place under complex conditions that are still being deciphered by meteorologists who make detailed measurements from up close. Go inside a supercell thunderstorm to see…
Episode 15 Mountain Windstorms and Avalanches
Study the impact of mountains on weather by investigating the Chinook winds, which can race down the east face of the Rocky Mountains with tornadic force. Also look at the…
Episode 16 Ice Storms: Freezing Rain Takes Over
Begin the first of three lectures on winter weather by pinning down the cause of ice storms, which are beautiful but also dangerous and destructive. Professor Snodgrass demonstrates how supercooled…
Episode 17 Epic Snowfall and the Lake Effect
The region downwind from the Great Lakes is famous for its lake effect snowstorms, which can total more than 200 inches of snow per year for some locations. Examine the…
Episode 18 Blizzards and Winter Cyclones
Look back at historical blizzards that paralyzed major U.S. cities. Then probe the official definition of a blizzard, the cold-weather cyclone systems that create them, and the revolution in forecasting…
Episode 19 Flash Floods and Deadly Moving Water
Consider the deadly power of moving water. Explore scenarios for extreme flooding in flood-prone regions of the U.S. and consider past cases of extreme coastal floods, river floods, and flash…
Episode 20 Drought, Heat Waves, and Dust Storms
From the American dust bowl of the 1930s to the relentless expansion of the Sahara in Africa, drought represents severe weather that can stretch out for years. Explore what's going…
Episode 21 Where Hurricanes Hit
Begin the first of three lectures on tropical cyclones, known as hurricanes, typhoons, or cyclones depending on where they occur. Plot the historical tracks of these gigantic storms, sharpen your…
Episode 22 The Enormous Structure of a Hurricane
How do hurricanes get so big? Start off the coast of West Africa to see how this region is the perfect breeding ground for low-pressure disturbances. Chart the role of…
Episode 23 Storm Surge and Hurricane Intensification
Hurricanes destroy life and property in four ways: through storm surge, inland flooding, high winds, and embedded tornadoes. Consider examples of each. Then focus on high water as the deadliest…
Episode 24 El Niño and Cycles of Extreme Weather
Close by investigating one of the most eventful weather triggers of all: the El Nino-Southern Oscillation, which starts as a warming trend in the eastern Pacific and can lead to…

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