World building – Weather

If you are a writer of sci-fi and have traveled to other worlds, as I have, then arming yourself with a visual aid of the weather can add drama to your work.  I recently discovered a fantastic site called Earth (by Cameron Beccario) and I can’t stop looking at it.   The graphics are mind-bending and served up through supercomputers of near-time data.  It is kinetic art, to say the least.

During a recent Atlantic storm (Joaquin) I was able to compare the weather outside my window with the projections on this site.  I would look up and study the sky: its clarity, clouds, their direction, then compare it to what I was seeing on these projections.  Up until studying this site, I would just look out my window–through the atmosphere–now I look at it.

I have been working on a novel, Silversides, for a few years and I am pouring my knowledge of real-world science into each edit.  It takes place on an exoplanet twenty light-years from here and therefore I have to invent everything.  But after exploring this site, I realized there was one area I was not paying much attention to, and that was the weather.  Sure, I had storms and rain and clouds and sun, but looking back, they were merely adjectives and adjectives from a storybook perspective.

My work reads differently now, much differently.  You feel it.  You feel the shuttering of the craft as it enters low orbit, the pilots trying to stabilize in vitro, their skill with simulation no longer relevant in these atmospheric anomalies.  And below them, skimming over open ocean the waves are building, driven hard by the fetch of winds over greater distances than on Earth where they feel the compression of air at each crest….Joaquin

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