A sounding is the vertical profile of temperature and other variables in the atmosphere over one geographic location. Stability refers to the ability of the atmosphere to be turbulent, which you can determine from soundings of temperature, humidity, and wind. Turbulence and stability vary with time and place because of the corresponding variation of the soundings.
We notice the effects of stability by the wind gustiness, dispersion of smoke, refraction of light and sound, strength of thermal updrafts, size of clouds, and intensity of thunderstorms.
Thermodynamic diagrams have been devised to help us plot soundings and determine stability. As you gain experience with these diagrams, you will find that they become easier to use, and faster than solving the thermodynamic equations. In this chapter, we first discuss the different types of thermodynamic diagrams, and then use them to determine stability and turbulence.