Weather Fundamentals

Early Weather History

Who was Alexander Buchan

The most prominent meteorologist of the nineteenth century, Scottish scientist Alexander Buchan (1829–1907) is sometimes referred to as the “Father of Meteorology.” He is credited with making great advances in weather charts, including his use of isobars to connect areas of equal pressure in lines that are now familiar to anyone who has seen a weather map; he also understood the importance of ocean and atmospheric circulation like no one else of his age. In his 1868 book, Handy Book of Meteorology, he made long-range weather predictions, the first person to do so in a printed publication. Among his most famous ideas was what are now called “Buchan Spells.” These are predictable blips—abrupt changes in temperature—in the usually smooth transition in weather between the seasons. For instance, he predicted that a cold Buchan Spell typically occurred the week before Valentine’s Day. Buchan was wise enough, though, to know that such a rule could never be hard and fast, and admitted that his Buchan Spells allowed for some variations and sometimes never occur at all.


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