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Medieval weather prediction

Lawrence-Mathers, A. ORCID: (2021) Medieval weather prediction. Physics Today, 74 (4). 38. ISSN 0031-9228

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1063/PT.3.4724


It is widely known that the first daily forecasts appeared in The Times (of London) in August 1861. The term itself was created by Robert FitzRoy, who wished to distance his work from astrological ‘prognostications’. This has led to a widespread assumption that weather forecasting is an entirely modern phenomenon and that in earlier periods only quackery or folklore-based weather signs were available. More recent research has demonstrated that astronomers and astrologers in the medieval Islamic world drew widely on Greek, Roman, Persian and Indian knowledge in order to create a new science of ‘astrometeorology’. This was enthusiastically received in Christian, Latin Europe, and was used and developed by astronomers such as Brahe and Kepler. The drive to produce reliable weather forecasts led to the belief that astrometeorological forecasting could be made more accurate if precise observations and records of weather were used to refine forecasts for specific localities. Such records were kept across Europe from the fourteenth century on, and correlated with forecasts made by astronomical methods. This article surveys the history of this science.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Graduate Centre for Medieval Studies (GCMS)
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > History
ID Code:96386
Publisher:American Institute of Physics


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