Meteorology: basic notions

Rita Yuri Ynoue , Michelle S. Reboita , Tércio Ambrizzi , Gyrlene Aparecida Mendes da Silva

The weather and climate affect economic activities and our daily life, with the most obvious examples being agriculture, water resources, clothing, health and environment. At the same time it suffers direct influence of the anthropic action, with international restlessness when it comes to climatic changes. Over the past decades, the acquisition of meteorological data and the models of weather forecasting have experienced an extraordinary improvement, gaining credibility and interest, including from the population.


Nowadays, the newspaper in any media presents and explains the meteorological dynamics. Although they are part of a complex system, the meteorological phenomena are presented in this work in a simple and didactic way, from the basic concepts of composition and structure of the atmosphere to the forecast of weather and climate and climatic changes.


Throughout its 13 chapters, Meteorology addresses topics such as solar radiation, temperature, air humidity, atmospheric pressure and stability, winds, atmospheric observation, global wind pattern, conceptual models, atmospheric pollution and climate classification, everything in clear and direct language, widely illustrated and with specific examples of weather and climate in Brazil. The work is aimed at a general audience whose area of study is influenced by Meteorology, without the topic being its specialty: biologists, geographers, ecologists, agronomists, geologists, engineers and many others.

Original title
Meteorologia: noções básicas
Year of publication

About the authors

Rita Yuri Ynoue

Rita Yuri Ynoue holds a bachelor’s degree (1992), a master’s degree (1999) and a PhD (2004) in Meteorology from the University of São Paulo (USP). Her main lines of research are in the area of Atmospheric Pollution and Synoptic Meteorology. She was a Teaching Professor of Natural Science at the School of Arts, Sciences and Humanities (EACH-USP) between 2006 and 2009, when she became interested in teaching meteorology to high school and elementary school teachers. She is currently a professor of Meteorology in the Bachelor’s degree at the Institute of Astronomy, Geophysics and Atmospheric Sciences (IAG-USP), where she also works as a research director in the Postgraduate Program in Meteorology.

Michelle S. Reboita

Michelle S. Reboita holds a bachelor’s degree in Geography (2001), a master’s degree in Ocean Engineering (2004) from the Federal University of Rio Grande and a PhD in Meteorology (2008) from the University of São Paulo. She obtained two postdoctoral degrees in Meteorology from USP, one of them with a “sandwich period” at the University of Vigo, Spain. She is a professor in the Institute of Natural Resources of the Federal University of Itajubá since 2010, research director in the Master’s Program in Environment and Water Resources at the Federal University of Itajubá and researcher in the Institute of Natural Resources and in the Climate Studies Group of the University of São Paulo. She is currently a member of the Natural Resources, Science and Environmental Technologies Advisory Board of the State of Minas Gerais Research Support Foundation and a junior associate of the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Italy. She has experience in the area of Geosciences, with emphasis in Synoptic Meteorology, Climatology and Climatic Modeling.

Tércio Ambrizzi

Tércio Ambrizzi obtained his PhD in Meteorology from the University of Reading, in England, in 1993. He was director of the Institute of Astronomy, Geophysics and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of São Paulo and is a Full Professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences of the same institution. He was editor-in-chief of Revista Brasileira de Meteorologia, which is linked to the Brazilian Society of Meteorology. He has published hundreds of articles in specialized periodicals, works on conference proceedings, and book chapters. He works in the area of Atmospheric Sciences, with emphasis in Dynamic Meteorology, Numerical Modeling of the Atmosphere and Climatology. He is coordinator of the Climate Studies Group and the INterdisciplinary CLimate INvEstigation Center (INCLINE) and member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences.

Gyrlene Aparecida Mendes da Silva

Gyrlene Aparecida Mendes da Silva holds a technical degree in Data Processing (1997) from the Federal Institute of Alagoas, a bachelor’s degree in Meteorology (2003) from the Federal University of Alagoas and a master’s (2005) and a PhD in Sciences in the area of concentration of Meteorology from the University of São Paulo (USP). Since 2014 she has been a professor at the Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp) in the Department of Marine Sciences, where she offers guidance for research and develops research, extension and management. At the Institute of Astronomy, Geophysics and Atmospheric Sciences (IAG-USP), she was a co-director of Undergraduate research and coordinated the Climate Studies Group, where she currently collaborates. She also developed a postdoctoral research at USP and at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte. She has been a consultant in the field of atmospheric pollutant dispersion modeling at Applied Science Associates South America and participated as a rapporteur at the Regional Conference on Global Changes. She was coordinator and professor of Meteorology in the first teaching course in Sciences with blended learning of the Virtual University of the State of São Paulo. She co-directed a master’s dissertation in the Postgraduate Program in Aquaculture and Fisheries of the Fisheries Institute. She is a researcher in the INterdisciplinary CLimate INvEstigation Center (INCLINE), co-director of Undergraduate research at the Institute of Geosciences at USP and and reviewer of international journals. She has experience in Data Processing, having worked as technical/webmaster supporter (internal/external), and in Geosciences, with emphasis in Meteorology, where she works with observation and numerical modeling of the climate, ocean-atmosphere interaction, climate prediction, paleoclimatology, weather forecasting, atmospheric pollutant dispersion modeling, applied statistical techniques in Geosciences and statistical downscaling.

1- Terrestrial atmosphere

  • Composition
  • Evolution
  • Vertical structure of the atmosphere


2- Solar and terrestrial radiation and the global energy balance

2.1 Energy and its forms

2.2 Mechanisms of energy transfer

2.3 Global energy balance


3- Temperature

3.1 Temperature measurements

3.2 Factors influencing temperature variations

3.3 The diurnal temperature cycle


4- Air humidity

4.1 The water

4.2 Humidity

4.3 Forms of condensation

5- Atmospheric stability, clouds and rainfall

5.1 Ideal gas law

5.2 First law of thermodynamics

5.3 Air lifting mechanisms

5.4 Static stability

5.5 Clouds

5.6 Rainfall

5.7 Rainfall measures


6- Atmospheric pressure and winds

6.1 Atmospheric pressure

6.2 Winds

6.3 Forces that influence the winds

6.4 Winds above the planetary boundary layer

6.5 Surface winds

6.6 Vertical movement


7- Atmospheric data

7.1 Types of observation

7.2 Use of environmental observations


8- General circulation of the atmosphere

8.1 Scales of atmospheric movement

8.2 Global circulation

8.3 Average pressure fields and winds observed in the real atmosphere

8.4 West winds at high levels in the mid-latitudes

8.5 Local circulations

8.6 Circulations with seasonal variations: monsoon

8.7 Ocean-atmosphere interaction


9- Atmospheric systems

9.1 Air masses

9.2 Fronts

9.3 Cyclones

9.4 Anticyclones

9.5 Severe storms


10- Atmospheric pollution

10.1 Types and sources of air pollutants

10.2 Ozone in the troposphere

10.3 Ozone in the stratosphere

10.4 Atmospheric factors affecting pollution

10.5 Atmospheric pollution and urban environments


11- Climate classification

11.1 Definition of weather and climate

11.2 Climatic factors or controls

11.3 Climate classification models


12- Weather forecast and climate prediction

12.1 Brief history

12.2 Principles of weather forecast and climate prediction

12.3 Stages of weather forecast and climate prediction

12.4 Types of model

12.5 Weather forecast

12.6 Climate prediction


13- Climate changes

13.1 Natural causes of climate change

13.2 Anthropogenic causes of climate change (internal factor)

13.3 Changes observed in the climate

13.4 Future climate projections

13.5 The world and climate change


Bibliographical references

About the authors


Meteorology today appears at the center of a large set of disciplines connected in a general way to the environment in which we live, and particularly to the air we breathe and the climate in which we carry out our most diverse activities, whether productive or leisure. Natural curiosity leads us to try to understand the transformations that occur in this environment, whether fast or slow, and that can lead to beautiful phenomena such as the blue sky or terrifying ones, such as the hurricane. Whenever extreme phenomena occur, such as prolonged droughts or floods due to extreme rains, we wonder if this has always been the case or if we are experiencing climate change at a rate we have never seen before.
Responding to specific questions about weather and climate variability requires knowledge of basic processes. One must go into the details of how the sun interacts with the Earth’s surface and air, as heat redistributes through the planet Earth from the hottest regions, such as oceans and atmosphere interact. How do light rain and storms with wind and ice form? How do human activities alter the chemical composition of the atmosphere and how is it possible that this change produces changes in the climate, rainfall, drought, storm, melting ice caps? Why do some regions get warmer and colder throughout the year and how does it vary over decades? And in the technological age in which we live, with revolutions in communications and access to information, how to predict what will happen with time and climate in the coming days, years, decades?
This book, Meteorology, takes the first steps to answer these questions. The various concepts are introduced with the necessary rigor, but in relatively simple language and with historical references to the development of science that supports current knowledge. With basic Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics from a freshman student of university, it is possible to follow the development of theory and move forward in building a global picture of the atmosphere as a highly complex and full of surprises system in every deeper investigation. In a objectively and simply form, the reader is led to understand complex processes in order to judge the veracity of simplistic and often wrong information that appear in non-specialized media.
The book shows the basic concepts in an interconnected way, indicating the relations between the topics covered in the various chapters. It presents specific examples of weather and climate in Brazil, indicating the source where up-to-date information can be obtained on a daily basis and how to interpret them. It also shows how the one who is interested can deepen or diversify knowledge through specialized websites on the internet. It is thus an important guide for teachers and students of the atmosphere and for those interested in understanding how man’s action can influence the climate through changes in the chemical composition of air and changes in land use.
It is a new reference for beginners in the study of weather and climate issues and fills a gap in the basic textbooks in Portuguese, with emphasis on issues affecting Brazil, while addressing global aspects of time and climate of the planet Earth.

Professor Maria Assunção Faus da Silva Dias
Full Professor at IAG-USP