New book: Politics, Statistics and Weather Forecasting, 1850-1910

Aitor Anduaga


Taming the Weather examines the role played by nation-state building and statistics in shaping weather forecasting across the long nineteenth century. It asks how knowledge about weather prediction was constructed, showing first how there was a confrontation between two rival approaches, Eulerian and Lagrangian, and how then the former consolidated its hegemony in practice. The physical theories alone were not capable of providing satisfactory answers to questions about the most appropriate approach.

Rather, state interests related to order, security, and centralization played a key role in a selective process. In this sense, the book is about how the abstract idea of the weather was transformed into a representation--the isobaric map-that seemed scientifically predictable and politically controllable and manageable. It shows how the modern Western states, through their national weather services, helped not only to socially legitimate the Eulerian approach and forecasts based on isobaric maps, but also to create the image of a national meteorological space. By examining the power of weather maps, Taming the Weather provides a fresh approach to the history of meteorology and scientific methods, bringing to the fore issues of science, representation, and nation-state building.