March 14th is celebrated around the world in honor of Pi, the Greek letter representing the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. The mathematical constant begins 3.14159 or, more commonly, 3.14, and as an irrational number, extends to an infinite number of decimal places.
Pi was used to build the IMAX Dome at McWane Science Center, the Colosseum and used for flight paths for example.
Pi Day is a national holiday, enacted by Congress on March 9, 2009 in an effort show support for the National Science Foundation and and give teachers an excuse to engage students about Pi and encourage the study of mathematics.
March 14 also happens to be Albert Einstein's birthday, a happy coincidence that many choose to include in their celebrations.
Around the world people will spend the day having geeky and wacky celebrations. There are many ways you can join in the fun and probably the most common is baking a pie.
So how important is math in meteorology?
With weather there is the use of:
- Charts and Graphs
- Numerical Modeling
- Water and Temperature Meters
Weather predictions is all about equations!
Numerical weather prediction uses mathematical models of the atmosphere and oceans to predict the weather based on current weather conditions. Though first attempted in the 1920s, it was not until the advent of computer simulation in the 1950s that numerical weather predictions produced realistic results. A number of global and regional forecast models are run in different countries worldwide, using current weather observations relayed from radiosondes or weather satellites as inputs to the models.
Have you ever seen a weather balloon?
Here is video I took of a balloon launch at the NWS in Valley, Nebraska: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFr2GKyPw_g
A weather balloon carries instruments aloft to send back information on atmospheric pressure, temperature, humidity and wind speed by the means of a small measuring device called a radiosonde.
Mathematical models based on the same physical principles can be used to generate either short-term weather forecasts or longer-term climate predictions.
Manipulating the vast data sets and performing the complex calculations necessary to modern numerical weather prediction requires some of the most powerful supercomputers in the world. Even with the increasing power of supercomputers, the forecast skill of numerical weather models extends to about only six days.
It's the job of a meteorologist to recognize which models are performing the best and then come up with a forecast.
If you know anyone that wants to become a meteorologist someday, recommend that they try and take as many math classes in high school as possible and really get a good understanding of it.
I went to college at Lyndon State in Vermont and was blown away by all of the math classes that I had to take which were prerequisites for higher level meteorology classes. I had to take Calculus I, II & II, Physics I & II, Thermodynamics, Dynamics I & II, Physical Meteorology ohhh just to name a few. Math wasn't my strength that's for sure, so even if you aren't very good at it, stay focused, keep trying and don't feel bad about getting a tutor. I had several tutors and wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for them. We all have our strengths and weaknesses but don't ever let a weakness prevent you from pursuing your dream.
Have a Happy Pi Day!
Jill Gilardi Fox 6 Meteorologist