Synoptic map: what is it for and who makes it up

A synoptic map is a geographical map containing the results of meteorological observations of a number of weather-monitoring stations, collected at a certain point in time and recorded by symbols and signs generally accepted among weather forecasters. Meteorological stations compose such maps several times a day, and the systematization and analysis of this information is used to predict the weather.


Depending on the specifics of the information collected, synoptic maps are surface, ring and high-altitude.

The ground synoptic map contains observations of weather stations with a frequency of 3 hours. Meteorological elements are applied to it around the point of location of the observation center using the international synoptic code KN-01.

Synoptic map

A ring map is a type of synoptic map on which meteorological data are shown in the form of a ring according to the values โ€‹โ€‹of stations located around a particular weather center. Such maps are becoming the main source for short-term weather forecasts for a particular area. Data on observed meteorological phenomena, pressure level and frontal zones are indicated on the map in different colors.

High-altitude, or aerological, maps systematize weather information at a certain height. They, in turn, are divided into maps of absolute (for a specific height) and relative (for two heights of a selected surface) topography.

What are meteorological elements?

Meteorological elements are atmospheric characteristics recorded by meteorological and aerological instruments at weather stations and in observatories. Such indicators, in addition to ambient temperature, water and soil, atmospheric pressure and air humidity, also include wind direction and speed, cloudiness, precipitation intensity, degree of solar radiation, various weather phenomena.

Synoptic map of the European part of Russia

How did weather forecasting come about?

The problem of predicting the weather has always worried humanity. In pursuit of a large crop, peasants sought to carry out agricultural work in the most favorable conditions for agricultural crops. Mariners and fishermen wanted to know how to most successfully get around dangerous stormy areas, and on which days you should not go to sea at all.

In the Russian Empire, the construction of a network of meteorological stations began in 1832. By 1849, there were already 54 of them in the world - most of all among European countries. But these stations could not systematize and generalize the collected data into synoptic weather maps because of the lack of telegraph communication between them.

Europeans were particularly keenly aware of the need for weather forecast during the Crimean War (1853-1856), when on November 14, 1854 a terrible hurricane dealt a crushing blow to the Allied forces under Sevastopol besieged by them. The element took to the sea more than 400 people, deprived of the possibility of food supplies for the army and soldiers' salaries. The result was an epidemic of scurvy and cholera in the allied forces.

Who and when started compiling synoptic maps?

The French government instructed astronomer Urbain Le Verrier to find out whether it is possible to predict weather disasters in advance. Le Verrier did a great job collecting weather information a few days before and after the Crimean hurricane in 250 places across Europe, marking this data on a geographical map. So he got the first synoptic map, showing that the cyclone could be predicted in about a day and prepare a fleet and an army for it.

Weather maps

In Great Britain, Robert Fitzroy, a successful navigator who became the captain of the first English propeller-driven warship and set out to prevent the death of ships during storms, showed keen interest in weather forecasting in 1860. Fitzroy and his assistants daily received data from 24 stations located both in England and abroad, summarized them, and a synoptic map was obtained. The term was invented by Fitzroy, taking the Greek "synopsis" as the basis, which translates as "visible all at once."

Russian synoptic maps

Modern technology has greatly facilitated the collection and systematization of meteorological observations from all over the world. Today's synoptic map of Russia is compiled using computer technology. It allows you to perform once laborious calculations in seconds.

A synoptic map of the European part of Russia and the whole country is publicly available on the official website of the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring. Here you can see the near-surface weather analysis conducted by the department of short-term forecasts and hazardous phenomena of the Russian Hydrometeorological Center.

Synoptic map of Russia

A synoptic map of the European part of Russia allows residents of this region to see not only the predicted precipitation and temperature, but also to prepare for natural negative phenomena, to find out the degree of fire hazard in the nearest forests and other useful information.


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