Abstract

Tor Bergeron was a key member of the Bergen School of Meteorology that developed some of the most influential contributions to synoptic analysis in the 20th century: air-mass analysis, polar-front theory, and the Norwegian cyclone model. However, the eventual success of these so-called Bergen methods of synoptic analysis was not guaranteed. Concerns and criticisms of the methods—in part from the lack of referencing to prior studies, overly simplified conceptual models, and lack of real data in papers by J. Bjerknes and Solberg—were inhibiting worldwide adoption. Bergeron’s research output in the 1920s was aimed at addressing these concerns. His doctoral thesis, written in German, was published as a journal article in Geofysiske Publikasjoner in 1928. Here, an accessible and annotated English translation is provided along with a succinct overview of this seminal study. Major interlaced themes of Bergeron’s study were the first comprehensive description of the Bergen methods; a vigorous defense of cyclogenesis as primarily a lower-tropospheric process as opposed to an upper-tropospheric/lower-stratospheric one; a nuanced explanation of the assertion that meteorology constituted a distinct and special scientific discipline; and, very understandably, a thorough account of Bergeron’s own contributions to the Bergen School. His contributions included identifying how deformation results in frontogenesis and frontolysis, quantifying subjectively the influence of aerosols on visibility, and explaining the role of the ambient conditions in the onset of drizzle as opposed to rain showers—a distinction that led the formulation of the Wegener–Bergeron–Findeisen process.

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