The Secret World of Weather Book Summary - The Secret World of Weather Book explained in key points
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The Secret World of Weather summary

Tristan Gooley

How to Read Signs in Every Cloud, Breeze, Hill, Street, Plant, Animal, and Dewdrop

4.4 (204 ratings)
20 mins
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    The Secret World of Weather
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    Learn to read local microclimates and you’ll be able to predict the weather better than any meteorologist.

    The origin story of the weather forecast is not a happy one. 

    In nineteenth century Britain, Robert FitzRoy, the famous Royal Navy vice admiral who captained Charles Darwin’s voyage on the Beagle, was appointed to the newly established Meteorological Office. FitzRoy was tasked with formalizing earlier, less scientific attempts at predicting the weather. By collecting daily weather data on land and using his own nautical charts, he was able to make more sophisticated and accurate predictions than his contemporaries. He called his predictions “forecasts.”

    But many didn’t think weather forecasting was even possible, and FitzRoy paid a high price: whenever his predictions were wrong, the public shamed him so vehemently that he became deeply depressed. In 1865, he took his own life. 

    Today, meteorologists have many more tools than FitzRoy ever had. Still, we often complain how inaccurate the weather forecast is. Are meteorologists really that bad at their job? Or are we like FitzRoy’s critics, holding them to an unrealistic standard?

    Here’s the key message: Learn to read local microclimates, and you’ll be able to predict the weather better than any meteorologist. 

    The reason that our own experience often contradicts the weather report is that meteorologists make their predictions on the macro-level: they consider big weather trends over wide areas. But we experience weather on the micro-level. In a big city, for example, it sometimes rains in one area, but stays completely dry in another. And it’s all down to microclimates. 

    Microclimates are directly shaped by our environment and its distinct features – whether trees, buildings, hills, or different types of soil. Sometimes, microclimates can vary wildly over just a few meters. Consider the 800-meter-high ridge in the Jura mountains on the border of France and Switzerland. It’s only 50 centimeters wide, but the climate on each side is so different that it’s created two completely distinct ecosystems. 

    If you’ve ever sought shelter under a tree on a hot day, you’ve already experienced the power of a microclimate. Trees don’t just provide a cooling shadow in summer; any breeze is also stronger around their trunk, thanks to an effect known as the “tree fan.” 

    Microclimates come with their own clues that even the best meteorologist with the fastest computer can’t fully map. If you want to know what the weather will really be like, you need to know how to read these clues. 

    And that’s where these blinks come in: they’ll encourage you to pay close attention to the weather signs in your environment and show you how to interpret them – starting with our puffy friends in the sky: the clouds.

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    What is The Secret World of Weather about?

    The Secret World of Weather (2021) teaches you how to speak the forgotten language of local climates. Clouds, winds, plants, and other features of our environment all give us clues about the weather as we actually experience it versus what we’ve heard on the daily forecast. With just a little practice, you’ll find it easy to tune into their secret messages and start making your own weather forecasts.

    Who should read The Secret World of Weather?

    • Hikers, bikers, and wandering spirits
    • City dwellers looking to reconnect with nature
    • Anyone who doesn’t quite trust their weather app!

    About the Author

    Tristan Gooley is a nature writer, explorer, and navigator who lives in Sussex in the UK. He’s led nature expeditions on all five continents and is one of only a few people to sail across the Atlantic solo. He’s a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Institute of Navigation. His other books include The Walker’s Guide to Outdoor Clues and Signs and How to Read Water.

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