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George Hadley

From Academic Kids

George Hadley (1685-1768) was an English lawyer and amateur meteorologist who proposed the atmospheric mechanism by which the Trade Winds are sustained. As a key factor in ensuring that European sailing vessels reached North American shores, understanding the Trade Winds was as important in Hadley's day as the understanding of the solar wind and other extraterrestrial phenomena is to contemporary scientists considering manned lunar and Martian expeditions. Hadley was intrigued by the fact that winds which should by all rights have blown straight north had a pronounced westerly flow, and it was this mystery he set out to solve.

Hadley was born in London, England in February of 1685 to Katherine FitzJames and George Hadley. He had an unremarkable childhood, and was eclipsed in his early years by his older brother John, the inventor of the reflecting telescope and the octant (a precursor to the sextant).

In 1686, Edmond Halley proposed his theory attempting to explain the Trade Winds. While Halley's theory was successful in describing the overall circulation at the equator, it failed completely to explain the westward component of the Trades. Had it been successful in doing so, Hadley's historical presence would have been greatly diminished. However, in realizing that the Earth's rotation played a crucial role in the direction taken by a moving airmass, Hadley earned fame.

Hadley was elected a Royal Fellow in 1745 and died in 1768. The Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, within the UK Met Office, is named in his honour.

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