General
31 Jul 2008

Watching the weather: a new course from The Open University

Iceberg

Iceberg

The British are often seen as being obsessed with the weather, but they are not unique in this. The weather is important to everybody, everywhere. Will a rainy evening spoil plans for a barbecue? Where in the world is lightning most frequent? Why does the Caribbean have a hurricane season and India a monsoon season? The Open University is aiming to demystify weather phenomena with the launch of a new science short course, Understanding the weather.

Shelagh Ross, the course team chair, says: “The course provides an introduction to weather patterns and events around the world and explains the main drivers that determine the weather on both a daily and seasonal basis.”

Processes relating to temperature, humidity, air pressure, air density, clouds, precipitation and wind are explained, and students will discover how these all work together in the atmosphere to produce various types of weather systems, from local thunderstorms to el Niño events that can affect the weather over half the globe. As well as learning how professional weather forecasts for their area are made (and how reliable they are likely to be!), students will carry out their own observations and even make their own short-term predictions.

The course has been produced in partnership with the Royal Meteorological Society (RMetS). Professor Paul Hardaker, Chief Executive of the RMetS, said: “This is a great initiative by The Open University and we were delighted to be involved. This new course is packed with interesting information about the weather and is a comprehensive introduction to how our weather works, right down to making your own observations and forecasts. I’m certain that people will find this enjoyable and informative, and can guarantee that they will never look at the weather in the same way again.”

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