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The Mechanics of the Atmosphere1

Nature volume 70, pages 225227 (07 July 1904) | Download Citation



THE motion of the atmosphere at any time is admitted to be so complicated that any approach to a workable representation of it must necessarily be by steps. The motion at any time must be regarded as a temporary divergence from the average motion, and the question naturally arises, What is the nature of the average state of motion about which the actual state of motion fluctuates? We may approach the solution of this question in either of two ways; we may find out what the motion actually is or we may find what the forces are which, so far as we can tell, cause the motion, and trust to our knowledge of dynamics to compute the average motion from the average forces. As regards the latter method, it may be said that the dynamics of an elastic fluid moving on a rotating spheroid, however interesting, is beset with an extraordinary number of temptations to error, and the more humble ambition of trying to find out what the motion really is, although painfully laborious, has advantages which may be compared with the advantages which walking has as compared with the use of a flying machine.

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