The Science of Extreme Weather

Watch The Science of Extreme Weather

  • 2016
  • 1 Season

The Science of Extreme Weather is an engaging and informative show from The Great Courses Signature Collection, starring renowned climatologist Eric Snodgrass. The show explores the fascinating science behind some of the world's most extreme weather phenomena, from hurricanes and tornadoes to droughts and heat waves.

Over the course of the show, Snodgrass takes viewers on an in-depth journey through the mechanisms that drive extreme weather events, starting with the basics of atmospheric science and meteorology. He explains the role of the sun's energy in driving weather patterns, the physics of atmospheric pressure, and the way in which air currents and storms form and move across the planet.

From there, the show dives into specific extreme weather phenomena, incorporating beautiful visuals, fascinating stories, and plenty of data and scientific analysis along the way. For example, viewers will learn about the anatomy of a hurricane, exploring the ways in which massive storms like Hurricane Katrina form, intensify, and wreak havoc on human communities. Snodgrass uses real-life examples to illustrate the science behind hurricanes, discussing the impact of factors like sea-surface temperature and atmospheric pressure on storm behavior.

The show also covers other types of extreme weather, such as tornadoes and lightning storms. Snodgrass explains how warm, moist air rising from the ground can create the conditions needed for a twister to form, while also discussing some of the key features that characterize these deadly storms. Meanwhile, the lightning storm segment delves into the electrical physics that underlie these incredible natural phenomena, as well as explaining the role that temperature, moisture, and other factors play in creating electrical charges in the atmosphere.

Alongside these more dramatic weather phenomena, the show also covers less visible forms of extreme weather, such as droughts and heat waves. Snodgrass discusses the differences between these weather patterns and others, discussing the way in which extreme heat and dryness can have profound effects on human lives and ecosystems alike. He also explores the connections between climate change and extreme weather, discussing the ways in which rising temperatures and changing atmospheric conditions can amplify weather patterns and make them more intense or frequent.

Throughout the show, Snodgrass emphasizes the importance of understanding extreme weather from a scientific perspective. By explaining the complex mechanisms that drive these phenomena, he helps viewers to appreciate the beauty and power of nature while also appreciating the tremendous risks that extreme weather events can pose. He also highlights the value of scientific research and data analysis in predicting and mitigating extreme weather.

Overall, The Science of Extreme Weather is an excellent educational show that combines stunning visuals, clear explanations, and fascinating real-life stories to create an immersive exploration of some of the world's most incredible natural phenomena. If you're interested in learning more about atmospheric science, meteorology, and the way in which physics and weather patterns interact, this show is definitely worth checking out.

The Science of Extreme Weather is a series that is currently running and has 1 seasons (24 episodes). The series first aired on November 1, 2016.

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El Ni±o and Cycles of Extreme Weather
24. El Ni±o and Cycles of Extreme Weather
November 1, 2016
Close by investigating one of the most eventful weather triggers of all: the El Ni±o-Southern Oscillation, which starts as a warming trend in the eastern Pacific and can lead to extreme weather throughout the world. Our detailed understanding of this once-mysterious phenomenon, as well as other extreme weather cycles, shows how far the science of meteorology has come.
Storm Surge and Hurricane Intensification
23. Storm Surge and Hurricane Intensification
November 1, 2016
Hurricanes destroy life and property in four ways: through storm surge, inland flooding, high winds, and embedded tornadoes. Consider examples of each. Then focus on high water as the deadliest factor, responsible for 80% of all hurricane fatalities.
The Enormous Structure of a Hurricane
22. The Enormous Structure of a Hurricane
November 1, 2016
How do hurricanes get so big? Start off the coast of West Africa to see how this region is the perfect breeding ground for low-pressure disturbances. Chart the role of the Coriolis force, water temperature, and other factors that must coincide for these systems to grow into hurricanes threatening the U.S.
Where Hurricanes Hit
21. Where Hurricanes Hit
November 1, 2016
Begin the first of three lectures on tropical cyclones, known as hurricanes, typhoons, or cyclones depending on where they occur. Plot the historical tracks of these gigantic storms, sharpen your understanding of how they are named, and focus on tropical cyclones that were so notorious that their names have been retired.
Drought, Heat Waves, and Dust Storms
20. Drought, Heat Waves, and Dust Storms
November 1, 2016
From the American dust bowl of the 1930s to the relentless expansion of the Sahara in Africa, drought represents severe weather that can stretch out for years. Explore what€™s going on in the atmosphere to create extreme drought, which is associated with heat waves and dust storms.
Flash Floods and Deadly Moving Water
19. Flash Floods and Deadly Moving Water
November 1, 2016
Consider the deadly power of moving water. Explore scenarios for extreme flooding in flood-prone regions of the U.S. and consider past cases of extreme coastal floods, river floods, and flash floods. Study the meteorology behind these events, and hear flood safety tips.
Blizzards and Winter Cyclones
18. Blizzards and Winter Cyclones
November 1, 2016
Look back at historical blizzards that paralyzed major U.S. cities. Then probe the official definition of a blizzard, the cold-weather cyclone systems that create them, and the revolution in forecasting blizzards since 1993. Focus on the role of the jet stream, and dispel a common misunderstanding of the polar vortex.
Epic Snowfall and the Lake Effect
17. Epic Snowfall and the Lake Effect
November 1, 2016
The region downwind from the Great Lakes is famous for its lake effect snowstorms, which can total more than 200 inches of snow per year for some locations. Examine the factors behind this phenomenon as well as the mortal danger posed by blizzards, as shown by the tragic Children€™s Blizzard of 1888.
Ice Storms: Freezing Rain Takes Over
16. Ice Storms: Freezing Rain Takes Over
November 1, 2016
Begin the first of three lectures on winter weather by pinning down the cause of ice storms, which are beautiful but also dangerous and destructive. Professor Snodgrass demonstrates how supercooled water is the source of the freezing rain behind these perilous storms.
Mountain Windstorms and Avalanches
15. Mountain Windstorms and Avalanches
November 1, 2016
Study the impact of mountains on weather by investigating the Chinook winds, which can race down the east face of the Rocky Mountains with tornadic force. Also look at the Santa Ana winds of southern California, notorious for fanning the region€™s wildfires. Then explore another aspect of extreme mountain weather: avalanches.
Tornadogenesis and Storm Chasing
14. Tornadogenesis and Storm Chasing
November 1, 2016
The genesis of tornadoes takes place under complex conditions that are still being deciphered by meteorologists who make detailed measurements from up close. Go inside a supercell thunderstorm to see a tornado being spawned. Then learn tornado safety tips and the precautions that professional storm chasers take.
Tornadoes and Their Amazing Winds
13. Tornadoes and Their Amazing Winds
November 1, 2016
Tornadoes hit all 50 states of the U.S. and most inhabited regions of the world. Blowing as fast as 200 to 300 mph, they are the most awe-inspiring of extreme weather. But what exactly are they? And why are they more prevalent in some areas than others? Probe tornado facts and myths, and survey some of the deadliest tornadoes of our times.
Supercell Thunderstorms and Hail
12. Supercell Thunderstorms and Hail
November 1, 2016
Pound for pound, the supercell is the most powerful thunderstorm on Earth. Explore the mechanics of this system, which produces the strongest straight-line winds, the most violent tornadoes, and the largest hail. Close by looking at the formation of a record-breaking hailstone weighing almost two pounds!
Squall Line Thunderstorms and Microbursts
11. Squall Line Thunderstorms and Microbursts
November 1, 2016
Heralded by an ominous-looking formation called a shelf cloud, a squall line is a group of thunderstorms that produces intense, destructive winds. Analyze the anatomy of a squall line, so that you know what to expect next time a shelf cloud approaches. Also investigate microbursts, another dangerous product of thunderstorms.
Wind Shear and Severe Thunderstorms
10. Wind Shear and Severe Thunderstorms
November 1, 2016
Wind shear is the ingredient that turns an ordinary thunderstorm into a monster. Study the mechanisms that underlie this transformation. Then evaluate the crucial difference between a severe weather watch versus a warning, and put yourself in the shoes of a forecaster calling the shots.
Thunderstorm Formation and Weather Balloons
9. Thunderstorm Formation and Weather Balloons
November 1, 2016
Begin a series of lectures on thunderstorms, which are the key to understanding many types of extreme weather. Learn how thunderstorms are forecast, and explore their formation by following a weather balloon on its data-gathering mission through the atmosphere.
Lightning Extremes and Survival
8. Lightning Extremes and Survival
November 1, 2016
Investigate positive polarity lighting-a bolt up to ten times more powerful than normal lightning-which accounts for five percent of cloud-to-ground strikes. Then hear life-saving tips on how to recognize when you are about to be hit by lightning and what you should instantly do.
Anatomy of a Lightning Strike
7. Anatomy of a Lightning Strike
November 1, 2016
Moment for moment, the one billion volts discharged in a typical lightning strike may be the most extreme of all weather phenomena. Watch lightning unfold in super-slow motion, and gain an appreciation for the exquisite complexity of this electrifying event.
How Satellites Track Severe Weather
6. How Satellites Track Severe Weather
November 1, 2016
Venture into space to see how different types of weather satellites chart large-scale extreme weather systems in both daylight and darkness. Compare two nearly identical hurricanes-one in 1900, the other in 2008-to highlight the life-saving capability of orbiting weather stations.
How Radar Reveals Storms
5. How Radar Reveals Storms
November 1, 2016
In this and the next lecture, study the advanced technology that has revolutionized extreme weather forecasting. Here, look at how radar has vastly improved the prediction of tornadic thunderstorms. You€™ve seen Doppler radar images in forecasts. Now learn how this all-important tracking tool works.
Extreme Humidity, Rain, and Fog
4. Extreme Humidity, Rain, and Fog
November 1, 2016
Severe weather is driven by water€™s ability to change phase-with energy being released during the transition from vapor to liquid, and from liquid to ice. Calculate the stupendous amount of energy brewing in a typical thunderstorm, and study cases of extreme humidity, rain, and fog.
Low Pressure and Earth€™s High Winds
3. Low Pressure and Earth€™s High Winds
November 1, 2016
Witness a demonstration of the power of air pressure and the ability of changing pressure to produce clouds. Learn how fluctuations in air pressure play a role in all weather, propelling everything from the ferocious winds of a tornado to the incredible speeds of the jet stream.
Temperature Extremes and Cold-Air Outbreaks
2. Temperature Extremes and Cold-Air Outbreaks
November 1, 2016
Discover the origin of Earth€™s great variability in air temperature, and learn how it also explains the seasons. Search for the highest and lowest temperatures on the planet, and the locations with the greatest difference between highs and lows. Along the way, encounter the deadliest weather on Earth.
Extreme Weather Is Everywhere
1. Extreme Weather Is Everywhere
November 1, 2016
Survey the remarkable range of extreme weather around the planet. Then consider: Why does Earth have weather at all? Professor Snodgrass introduces basic features of the atmosphere that naturally lead to severe weather. He concludes by outlining the goals of the course-among them, preparedness.
Where to Watch The Science of Extreme Weather
The Science of Extreme Weather is available for streaming on the The Great Courses Signature Collection website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch The Science of Extreme Weather on demand at Amazon Prime, Amazon and Kanopy.
  • Premiere Date
    November 1, 2016