Meteorology Lesson for Kids: Definition & Facts

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

Meteorology is a branch of science that studies the weather. This lesson will teach you about meteorology, how long it has been around, what meteorologists do and some other cool facts about the field.

What Is Meteorology?

It's Friday and you're meeting up with friends at the park tomorrow. Your parents are watching the news, but you're waiting for the weather so you can see what's going to happen and if you'll need sneakers or rain boots. After watching the weather, you head upstairs to look for your sneakers!

Meteorology is a branch of science that studies weather and the atmosphere, which is what we call the layers of air above Earth. You probably think about the weather forecast during your local nightly news when you think of meteorology, but people have been studying and trying to figure out the weather for much longer than TV has been around.

How Long has Meteorology Been Around?

People living in ancient times were just as interested in the weather around them as we are today. Although they didn't know a lot of what we know now, or have all the computers and equipment that we have at our disposal, they still studied the weather.

In about 650 B.C., the Babylonian people made weather predictions by looking at clouds. And around 300 B.C., the Chinese made a calendar based on different kinds of weather during different times of the year. Around the same time, the ancient Greeks also came up with theories about things like wind, hail, rain, clouds and lightning, although many of their ideas turned out to be wrong.

Over the thousands of years since, people have developed equipment for studying and measuring things like air pressure, wind, temperature and moisture, which help predict the weather.

What Kinds of Equipment Are Used in Meteorology?

Radar tower
Radar tower

Today, scientists have a lot of knowledge and tools they can use to study the atmosphere and the weather. Some of these include:

  • Satellites that orbit the Earth and send back information.
  • Radar, which sends out radio waves from a special antenna that bounce back and help predict things like thunderstorms, flash floods and tornadoes, as well as where and how fast they're going.
  • Weather balloons with radiosondes (pronounced RAY-dee-oh-sond), which are small instruments with sensors that are sent high into the atmosphere to measure air pressure, moisture in the air and temperature.
  • Computers that create models and forecasts based on the information they get from things like satellites, radar and radiosondes, as well as knowledge from the study of energy and matter in math and physics.

Weather balloon with radiosonde
Weather balloon with radiosonde

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