Meteorology embraces the study of the physics, chemistry, and dynamics of the atmosphere of the earth, including the related effects at the air–earth boundary over both land and the oceans. Fundamental topics include the composition, structure, and motion of the atmosphere. Meteorologists aim to understand completely and predict accurately atmospheric phenomena. Weather describes the state of the atmosphere at a given time and place with respect to such variables as temperature, moisture, wind velocity, and barometric pressure. Determining future weather involves more than simply looking at some pictures.

Understanding meteorology requires understanding the atmosphere, some physics, and a lot of charts. Although this book may attempt to explain some mathematical concepts, many chapters simply require a preexisting considerable understanding of differential and integral calculus. Linear algebra, differential equations, and vector calculus also will aid the student greatly. Students also should possess some familiarity with physics, chemistry, computer information science (programming), statistics, and communication.