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administrative offices. Outside are playing fields, houses, mountains, and lakes, for it was thought that those who compute the weather should breathe of it freely.

Fig. 6.1

Artist’s conception of Lewis Richardson’s forecast factory[1]

Richardson’s forecast factory (Fig. 6.1) was based on an innovation in theoretical meteorology and applied mathematics: the first step toward integrating meteorology with atmospheric physics, and thus the first step toward connecting meteorology and climatology into a coherent discipline united by underlying mathematical similarities. Prior to the first decade of the 20th century, meteorologists spent the majority of their time each day charting the weather in their region--recording things like temperature, pressure, wind speed, precipitation, humidity, and so on over a small geographical area. These charts were meticulously filed by day and time, and when the meteorologist wished to make a forecast, he would simply consult the most current chart and then search his archives for a historical chart that was qualitatively similar. He would then examine how the subsequent charts for the earlier time had evolved, and would forecast something similar for the circumstance at hand.

This qualitative approach began to fall out of favor around the advent of World War I. In the

  1. Image by Francois Schuiten, drawn from Edwards (2010), p. 96