Tuesday, June 22, 2010

NEQ Spotlight: Dr. Francis Galton

A new feature to the blog, the NEQ Spotlight will periodically draw attention to those who influenced and shaped the science of meteorology!

There's one weather pioneer who has fallen off the 'radar' and today, the inaugural
NEQ Spotlight pays respect to his can't-live-without meteorological breakthrough: the weather map! I'm talking about Dr. Francis Galton and his instrumental invention dates back to the mid-19th century and still today, is a standard tool in weather forecasting.

Interestingly, Galton never held any academic or professional post. Instead, he did his experimenting at home or during his travels. His earliest research had to do with meteorology, and in his 1863 book,
Meteorgraphica, he devised the weather map (
which first appeared in the London Times in 1875), and he also proposed a theory of anticyclones - and the hugely important role they play in weather movements and conditions. He also was the first to establish a complete record of short-term climatic phenomena on a European scale.

The invention of the weather map was obviously incredible, but why is the anticyclone such a big deal? This invention greatly increased the scientific understanding of how weather systems work.
Whereas cyclones rotate counter- or anti-clockwise in the northern hemisphere, the anticyclones rotate clockwise. Both rotate in the opposite direction in the southern hemisphere. One of the most famous anticyclones is the Bermuda High.

In addition to these great inventions and discoveries, Galton was also instrumental in establishing the Meteorgraphica Office and the National Physical Laboratory in London.

Hats off to you Dr. Galton! Thanks for the weather map... and anticyclone!