Throughout the majority of this summer, the northeast corridor of the United States has been experiencing a warming trend, or in other words, a “heat wave”. Many places have been experiencing above average temperatures of over 20° F (-6.6° C), which when combined with high humidity has led to heat indices of 100° F (37.7° C). This means that the air temperatures feel much hotter and thicker than it actually is.
A heat wave occurs when a system of high atmospheric pressure moves into an area. In such a high-pressure system, air from upper levels of our atmosphere is pulled toward the ground, where it becomes compressed and increases in temperature. This high pressure makes it difficult for other weather systems to move into the area, which is why a heat wave can last for days or weeks. The longer the system stays in an area, the hotter the area becomes. Because the high-pressure system also prevents clouds from entering the region, sunlight can become punishing, heating up the system even more. The combination of all of these factors come together to create the exceptionally hot temperatures we call a heat wave.
As for the northeast, in areas such as Massachusetts - these areas are projected to experience more hot weather for the first week of September. This is unusual for the area, as the average high temperature for the city of Boston in September is the lower to middle 70’s. Meteorologists from the area, such as Danielle Niles of WBZ-TV are considering the month of August as the warmest ever on record, with an average high temperature of 76.9° F (24.9° C). As school has started in many areas in the state, there have been numerous school closings due to the stifling heat.
Heat is often considered to be the deadliest natural disaster in the United States, killing more people on average compared to other natural disasters such as lightning, tornadoes, earthquakes hurricanes and floods combined. High humidity and elevated nighttime temperatures are the key ingredients in causing heat-related illness. Heat stress occurs in humans when the body is unable to cool itself effectively. Normally, the body can cool itself through sweating but when humidity is high, sweat will not evaporate as quickly, potentially leading to heat stroke.
Heat waves should always be taken seriously no matter where you are located in the world. It’s important to remember that you should always stay hydrated, limit outdoor activities and potentially limit them to the early morning or evening when temperatures aren’t nearly as high, always check up your neighbors and the elderly and try to find activities that are indoors such as going to a shopping mall. It’s important to keep all of this in mind to prevent heat stroke from occurring. Heat stroke is the most serious form of heat injury and is considered a medical emergency. Heat stroke can kill or cause damage to the brain and other internal organs. Although heat stroke mainly affects people over age 50, it also takes a toll on healthy young athletes. This occurs from prolonged exposure to high temperatures, usually in combination with dehydration which leads to failure of the body’s temperature control system. Some of the symptoms include throbbing headache, dizziness and light headedness, lack of sweating despite the heat, red hot and dry skin, muscle weakness or cramps, nausea and vomiting, rapid heartbeat which may be either strong or weak, rapid shallow breathing, seizures and unconsciousness.
While the nature of a heat wave is frightening at first, it’s important to remember to stay hydrated, limit outdoor activities, stay inside with air conditioning if you can, checking up on others, as well as learn the signs of heat stroke and heat related illnesses. Heat waves will always be occurring throughout the summer months in many areas, and it’s something to stay diligent about and be educated on the matter.
© 2018 Weather Forecaster Michael Ames
There is a very popular image on the internet that features a dog sitting in a room that is burning around him. Despite his precarious situation, he sips his cup of coffee and says “This is fine”.
In most cases of wildfire or forest fire, this is, indeed, fine. Fire is an important and natural element of a forest ecosystem that helps to regulate overgrowth. However, the fires that have been occurring in the western United States are far from fine. In fact, they are a look in to what Earth’s new normal will be if fossil fuel emissions are left unchecked. Of course, it is nearly impossible to attribute an event specifically to climate change. Forest fires are often ignited by a lightning strike, which is a weather phenomenon. Nonetheless, observed and predicted changes in Earth’s climate have and will continue to create prime conditions for out-of-control fires that devastate people’s lives.
One of the factors in these prime conditions is increased air temperatures. Think of your garden in the summer. You probably have to go outside and water your plants more frequently in the summer than in the spring. This is because of increased evapotranspiration – the process in which water leaves plants through holes in the plant’s leaves, called stomata. Plants open their stomata to take in carbon dioxide from the air, but water also escapes the plant through these holes. The warmer the air around the plant, the more water escapes the plant through evaporation – just like how a glass of water stays more full in a cold room than outside on a summer day. Higher temperatures lead to more evaporation in the glass of water and in a plant. More evaporation means that plants are drier – which is why your garden needs more frequent watering in the summer. Drier plants are better fuel for a fire. You wouldn’t use wet logs to create a bonfire, would you?
Another climatic factor in wildfire formation is shifting snowmelt. A major source of water in the western United States is melting snow coming from the tops of mountains. Observations have shown that snow is melting earlier than in previous decades, which extends the fire season. Additionally, warmer temperatures mean that often times, less snow accumulates on mountain snow caps. Less water coming later means that plants are drier for a longer period of time, which gives fires the potential to be more powerful and widespread. Their fuel is stronger and around for longer.
The wildfires that we have been seeing in our country and others are devastating. Unfortunately, they are a preview of what the “new normal” on our planet will look like if we continue to burn fossil fuels unchecked.
Fortunately, our world is shifting towards higher usage of renewable energy technologies. One way you can be part of this is to contact your power company and arrange to have part or all of your energy be provided by renewable sources such as wind turbines or solar panels, depending on your area. Click on the link below for more information about how to use more renewable energy!
©2018 Meteorologist Margaret Orr
For more information on climate change, visit www.globalweatherclimatecenter.com/climate
Some information from: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/heres-what-we-know-about-wildfires-and-climate-change/
Wildfire image from https://www.ocregister.com/2018/01/04/wildfires-are-making-california-home-insurance-unaffordable/
Significant global variability in climate can be traced back into the Paleozoic era when an explosion of multicellular life took place within the oceans. There is recent evidence of a possible early snowball earth episode that occurred as a result of the Great Oxygenation event as early as 2.4-2.1 million years ago in the Paleoproterozoic era. A snowball earth is a hypothetical scenario that some scientists suggest could have occurred at least once in Earth’s record, where the entire or nearly entire Earth was covered in ice. An explosion of anaerobic organisms producing oxygen as a by-product is thought to have lowered methane levels in the atmosphere. Because solar activity was lower than modern times (Early Sun Paradox), it was thought that lowering of methane, a greenhouse gas, would ultimately reduce global temperatures leading to the snowball earth. Many pro-snowball earth scientists believe that these types of events likely occur due to a positive feedback effect. Once, global temperatures sufficiently cooled, a runaway effect would occur that would keep global temperatures in a decline. However, there is still a great amount of disagreement between scientists in regards to the Huronian glaciation which could be the longest lasting glacial period in earth’s history.
Scientists have found some evidence to support the case of the Huronian glaciations to have covered the entire Earth as such. Such evidence is that the global distribution of Sturtian and Marinoan glacial deposits, suggest at this geologic time, that most land mass were indeed covered in a glacier. The warmer parts of the surface ocean during this time contain glacial marine deposits and thick limestone type rock which suggest a much colder regime. Further, paleomagnetic data suggests that glacial sediment has been found near the paleo-equator, or the location of the equator during this geologic time.
However, some evidence would seem to suggest that snowball earth was non-existent. Such evidence comes from rocks in Oman, that have produced evidence of many cycles of hot and cold regimes in the Paleoproterozoic era’s. Other evidence against this hypothesis is that the global deposits of glacial marine sediment are not the same age everywhere which would seem to suggest that the collective nature of all the global glacial sediment was not deposited in a single time that a snowball earth would produce. Finally, indications of an open ocean during this time do exist. Indications of open water such as biomarkers of phototrophism, numerous examples of wave ripples and ice rafted debris have been found to travel extensive distances across the paleo-oceans. While arguments still exist in whether the Earth was completely covered in ice, it is always interesting to think about how different Earth’s climate could have been.
For more interesting articles on the past and future states of the climate, be sure to click here!
© 2018 Meteorologist Allan Diegan
Everyone talks about what the “high for today” will be when looking at weather forecasts for the next few days. While this is important, seldom do people consider what the “low for tonight” may be, but the lows are just as essential as the highs. Nightly minimum temperatures, just like daily maximum temperatures, have both significant ecological and agricultural impacts, as well as effects on public health.
First, consider the ecological impacts. An increase in the lowest minimum temperature in winter may permit the eggs of insects, such as the Southern Pine Beetle, to survive winters in regions where colder temperatures in the past prohibited survival (Ayres et al. 2011). This invasive species has already invaded the New Jersey Pinelands, and threatens to do considerably more damage. It is hypothesized that the reason for the invasion is at least in part a function of warmer extreme minimums. This rise in lowest minimum may also help facilitate cold-tolerance for non-invasive species, such as the bark beetle found in the western conifer forests of United States and Canada, meaning these bark beetles would be able to live throughout the winter season with an increase in cold tolerance (Bentz et al. 2010). This winter survival of species is enough to change an ecosystem.
Minimum temperatures affect agriculture as well. Hatfield et al. (2011) reports that plant respiration rates actually slow down as minimum temperatures increase above an optimum level; meaning that overall crop yield will be reduced. In another study, Hatfield and Prueger (2015) have shown that the effects of increased minimum temperatures have decreased the ability of maize to efficiently produce grain. The decreased crop yield due to these temperatures could have devastating effects on world hunger.
Finally, human and public health is also an important function of minimum temperatures, one example being the rise of heat waves in the hot summer months. A summer increase in the minimum temperatures may be indicative of greater heat stresses being placed on individuals or families without air conditioning at night, especially during heat waves. This detrimentally impacts the ability of sensitive populations to recover from previous daytime heat, as they are not able to cool down at night. Pollen season could also be affected as well. A study published by Zhang et al. (2015) shows that allergenic pollen season timing and levels in the US are partially associated with the number of Frost Free Days (FFD), where FFD is defined as the interval between the last frost day each spring and first frost day each fall. The rise of minimum temperatures in the fall and winter could possibly increase the FFD, which might affect pollen season length.
For more information, and some real analyzed data on the topic of minimum temperature extremes, the Office of the New Jersey State Climatologist has a short study on their website, specifically using COOP stations in New Jersey. Find it here!
As always, for more great articles on our changing climate, be sure to visit here!
Ayres, Matthew P., Sharon J. Martinson and Nicholas A. Friedenberg, 2011: Southern pine beetle ecology: populations within stands, Southern Pine Beetle II. General Technical Report., 140, 75-89.
Bentz, Barbara J., Jacques Regniere, Christopher J. Fettig, E. Matthew Hansen, Jane L. Hayes, Jefferey A. Hicke, Rick G. Kelsey, Jose F. Negron, and Steven J. Seybold, 2010: Climate Change and Bark Beetles of the Western United States and Canada: Direct and Indirect Effects, BioScience, 60, 603-613.
Hatfield, Jerry L., Kenneth J. Boote, Bruce A. Kimball, Lewis H. Ziskz, Roberto C. Izaurralde, 2011: Climate Impacts on Agriculture: Implications for Crop Production, Publications from USDA-ARS / UNL Faculty. 1350.
Hatfield, Jerry L., John H. Prueger, 2015: Temperture extremes: Effect on plant growth and development, Weather and Climate Extremes, 10, 4-10.
Zhang, Yong, Leonard Bielroy, Zhongyuan Mi, Ting Cai, Alan Robock, and Panos Georgopoulous, 2015: Allergenic pollen season variations in the past two decades under changing climate in the United States, Global Change Biology, 21, 1581-1589.
©2018 Meteorologist Joey Fogarty
Climate Change, Again in Contention As Rail Enters Honolulu Corridor (Credit: HART & Meteorologist Jessica Olsen)
DISCUSSION: Nearly 4 months after our initial reporting on possible impacts to HART (Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation) due to climate change, concerns are still rising as projections for climate change impacts are expected to bring more than a 3-foot change to the latter part of the corridor by the year 2100.
The Hawai’i Climate Change Mitigation & Adaptation Commission is expected to “provide direction, facilitation, coordination and planning among state and county agencies and other partners about climate change mitigation and climate change resiliency strategies, including but not limited to, sea level rise adaptation, water and agricultural security and natural resource conservation.”
Interest involving climate change consequences are focused on coastal flooding, and sea level rise which could result in 8 ground level rail stations in the Honolulu area. HART indicates its adaptation efforts by already providing an elevated guideway, thus reducing any future sea-level rise ramifications. However, research conducted by the Hawai’i Climate Change Mitigation & Adaptation Commission estimates that the support columns aiding the guideways could be underwater in some instances, making some stations’ entryways inaccessible.
Thursday, July 19th State Rep. Sylvia Luke, chairwoman of the House Finance Committee indicated to HART that adjustments should be made to the rail line brining it along King Street to the University of Hawaii rather than by way of Ala Moana Boulevard due to mounting concern of sea-level rise along Ala Moana Boulevard. Some are predicting that this 3-feet of rise could happen in as little as 20 years, putting Kakaako in danger of flooding critical access points along the rail line.
Some drawback has come from Mayor Kirk Caldwell indicating HART can respond to these climate issues without altering the route. He notes the route was set to serve a substantial population in its current plans. Both parties are discussing issues brought by this climate debate such as the public-private partnerships contracts that could ultimately bring additional public scrutiny over funding.
For more in climate change impacts visit the Global Weather and Climate Center!
Our initial article on climate change impacts to HART!
© 2018 Meteorologist Jessica Olsen
“HART.” Honolulu Rail Transit, honolulutransit.org/.
“Hawaiʻi Climate Change Mitigation & Adaptation Commission.” Hawaiʻi Climate Adaptation Portal, 14 Sept. 2017, climateadaptation.hawaii.gov/commission/.
Likelihood of El Nino Increases for Fall and Winter 2018-19 (Credit: Climate Prediction Center, NWS)
Within the past week, the Climate Prediction Center raised the likelihood for El Nino to occur this fall and winter. Fall and Winter 2018 now possess, respectively, a 65 and 70 percent likelihood for occurring. The reasoning for this increase in percentage is due to the above-average temperatures in the tropical Pacific. June 2018 came in 0.11 degrees Celsius above the long-term temperature average. Based upon multiple climate models run by the Climate Prediction Center, it is predicted that come fall, temperatures will reach the El Nino threshold of 0.5 degrees Celsius above average.
A recent Kelvin wave which sloshes around water and creates up and down welling occurred in this region. Kelvin waves are not like waves that can be observed at any beach. These are planetary waves due to their immense scale. These waves do not curl and crash, rather, they slowly roll up into broad peaks and down into valleys that change the depth of the ocean water. Kelvin waves that interfere with El Nino only move eastward along the equator. In this instance, a down welling Kelvin wave made its way eastward across the pacific. In a down welling phase, winds shift from west to east bringing a warm layer of water which is usually in the western Pacific eastward. The warm layer of water pushes down the thermocline—boundary between warmer water near the surface and colder, deeper water. The downward push makes it harder for the colder water to affect the surface. This causes above-average temperatures and helps fuel El Nino development.
To understand the prediction aspect of El Nino, we must first understand what exactly El Nino is and how it affects the United States and the globe. El Nino refers to the warming of surface ocean water in the central and eastern Pacific. Low-level surface winds gradually weaken and, in some cases, switch direction from east to west (easterly winds), to west to east (westerly winds). This helps decrease upwelling which brings cooler water to the surface. El Nino irregularly occurs every three to five years and lasts usually nine to twelve months. This climate phenomenon alters weather patterns all over the globe during the winter months in the Northern Hemisphere. Warmer-than-average temperatures occur over western and central Canada along with the western and northern United States during El Nino. For the Gulf Coast, wetter than average conditions are more likely to occur. On the other side of the spectrum, drier than average conditions are more likely to take place in the Ohio Valley and Pacific Northwest.
Being able to predict El Nino conditions for the coming winter months is of utmost importance for a wide variety of regions around the Earth. El Nino can shift and even deplete weather patterns, so it is vital to understand the severity and likelihood of conditions for each El Nino.
To learn more about other interesting stories related to global climate issues, be sure to click on the following link: www.globalweatherclimatecenter.com/climate
©2018 Weather Forecaster Alec Kownacki
One of the biggest threats from climate change is sea level rise. Heightened sea levels threaten coastal communities, which are home to 39% of the population. A number of factors contribute to sea level rise, but one of the biggest contributors is melting land ice from countries like Greenland. Melting land ice is problematic because, unlike sea ice, it is not already part of the ocean system. Think of it like a full glass of water – if ice is already in the glass, its melting does not cause the glass to overflow. The volume of the ice is already accounted for, and as it melts, the volume does not change. However, if you add ice to the full glass, there is more water volume, and the glass will overflow.
Once land ice starts to melt, it becomes more likely that this ice will continue to melt. This is because of something called the ice-albedo feedback.
Let’s define some of these terms before we get into the nitty-gritty.
Albedo is a measure of how reflective a surface is, on a scale from 0 (absorbs all sunlight) to 1 (reflects all sunlight). Darker surfaces have lower albedo values, while lighter surfaces have higher albedo. For example, old asphalt has an albedo of about 0.1, while fresh snow has an albedo of about 0.75.
A feedback, also known as a feedback loop, is a process where one step affects the rest of the process. Feedback loops can be positive, meaning that the process intensifies; or negative, meaning that the process diminishes. Ice-albedo feedback is a positive feedback.
As land ice melts, the color of the surface becomes darker. Ice is whiter than the pools of water that form in it, as shown in the image above. Because darker surfaces have lower albedo, or absorb more solar radiation, they are hotter than lighter surfaces. Think of walking barefoot in summer – stepping on a blacktop is much more painful than a light-colored sidewalk. As the darker surface get hotter, it becomes much easier for the surrounding ice to melt. This is why ice-albedo is a positive feedback. Ice melts, the surface gets warmer, more ice melts, causing the surface to warm, so on and so forth.
Melting land ice and the effect of the ice-albedo feedback may seem like too big of a problem to solve. However, individual efforts can have an impact! One way to conserve energy is to always un-plug your phone and/or laptop chargers before you leave the house for the day. Did you know your chargers use energy when they’re plugged in, regardless of whether there’s a gadget on the other end? Unplugging them goes a long way in not only saving energy that is commonly generated by harmful fossil fuels, but it will also save you money on your energy bill.
To learn more about Earth’s climate and how it is changing, visit https://www.globalweatherclimatecenter.com/climate
©2018 Meteorologist Margaret Orr
Photo from NASA Earth Observatory
DISCUSSION: There are currently dozens of wildfires burning across the western U.S. The picture above is actually a satellite image of smoke from fires (indicated by red squares) in December 2017 in southern California (photo credit: NBC 4 Los Angeles and NASA). It seems like wildfires and fire seasons have gotten worse (more fires and/or greater acreage burned) in recent years. Part of the reason for this is human-caused climate change. Studies have indicated that an increasing average global temperature due to an increase in greenhouse gases can cause warmer, drier, and windier conditions to intensify and occur more frequency in some regions (e.g., western North America), all conditions that are especially dangerous should a fire be ignited. In addition, studies have indicated that human-caused climate change can cause wetter winter and springs in some locations, fostering more plant growth. When this increased growth dries out over the summer dry season, it can provide additional fuel for fires.
But, climate change doesn't tell the whole story. To get a fire, there must be an ignition source. Lightning and human ignition (e.g., fireworks, camp fires left unattended, cigarette butts, etc.) are the primary ignition sources. More people moving into wilderness areas provides more opportunity for accidents to happen. It is difficult to determine whether global climate change has had any influence on thunderstorm occurrence. Regardless, thunderstorms are going to occur with or without people and their influence on the climate.
Fires are a natural part of many ecosystems. They help thin forests, allowing for more diversity to occur in a forest and for the remaining trees to have more space and nutrients to grow (i.e., healthier trees). In addition, repeated smaller fires can burn up fuel (e.g., twigs, leaves, etc.) before they can accumulate on the forest floor, preventing a future larger fire. With more people living in wilderness areas and the resulting need for more aggressive fire fighting, fuel potentially builds up, increasing the risk of more dangerous fires in the future.
The main takeaway message here is that people indirectly influence fire risk via our influence on climate. They also more directly influence fire risk by moving into wilderness areas and potentially increasing the risk of igniting a fire. Obviously, it is a tragedy when people lose their homes and/or lives in a fire. But, it is important to keep in mind that fires left to burn away from people are not necessarily a bad thing.
Finally, given that it is Independence Day in the U.S., please be cognizant of the fire risk should you decide to shoot off fireworks. If you live in a region that has been especially warm and dry lately, it may be best to leave the fireworks to the professionals.
To learn more about other global climate stories and/or topics, be sure to click here! For more information on fire weather, click here!
©2018 Meteorologist Dr. Ken Leppert II
Golf, one of the world’s most coveted sports, contributes $80 million to the U.S. economy. Golfers play in all types of weather including heavy rain and heat waves. However, the U.S. Golf Association (USGA) has begun fearing the worst for golf, and climate change is to blame.
Since the 1920s, USGA has been sponsoring research into the use of turfgrasses. Climate change was not an established concept throughout much of this time, but officials in the golf world already knew that creating efficient water and turf practices were necessary to create ideal conditions for golfers.
It wasn’t until the 1980s, however, that the USGA upped funding for research after several years of extreme heat and drought. When it comes to extreme heat, golf courses plan to make use of natural fungi which acts to increase the tolerance of the green to heat. Grasses like tall fescue, which are often included in course rough, could benefit from the added fungi. This could be extremely beneficial to golf courses in the South where temperatures are expected to rise the most through the next couple decades.
In addition to extreme heat, drought has become a major threat to the existence of golf courses. Extreme drought in many golf-friendly regions of the country such as California and the Southeast in recent years have threatened to wipe out golf courses or make them more difficult to maintain. USGA research has found that certain genetically engineered varieties of buffalo grass could withstand heat up to an extremely high threshold. Using improved varieties of grasses, many of which are salt-resistant, could be helpful in the maintenance of coastal golf courses, which are found up and down the Eastern Seaboard. Using improved varieties of salt-resistant grasses allows these courses to use recycled water, which often has increased salt content. Fifteen percent of courses in the U.S. already reported using this method. Coastal courses also face another major threat: ocean flooding, which is expected to increase by 2100. Salt-resistant grasses would be able to withstand future flooding, whether it is astronomical or hurricane-induced.
While many courses have adopted the aforementioned techniques, one course in Florida took it a step further. Candler Hills in Ocala, Florida has enough solar energy from their solar panels that the course is sending energy back to the power grid. Golf course officials expect the golf course to pay for itself within a decade and will save the course $200,000 in electrical costs as long as the panels continue to function properly.
For more on how the effects of climate change, click here!
©2018 Weather Forecaster Jacob Dolinger
Factors that inflict climatic changes Part 4:
Part 3 here
The most common explanation for greenhouse gases and the greenhouse effect is the “blanket around the Earth” example. Heat comes through the blanket to warm the surface, but the blanket keeps the heat from escaping thus warming a given surface. This is exactly what the atmosphere and greenhouse effect does to the Earth. The greenhouse effect, although not initially harmful, can have dire consequences on either side of the temperature spectrum. After examining Earth, we will look to our planetary neighbors for a better explanation for this.
Earth. Positioned in the so called “Goldilocks Zone” of the solar system, receives millions of joules of energy per day from the Sun. This energy makes its way through the Earth’s atmosphere to the surface. Once the energy reaches the surface, it warms the surface and continues to bounce back into space. There is one thing keeping the energy from simply entering space: greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases most notably comprise of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and water vapor. These gases will restrict infrared radiation from entering space. The atmosphere then warms because of the trapped radiation in the atmosphere. These gases act as the “blanket” around the Earth, letting sunlight in and intercepting some of the infrared light reflecting off the surface. This effect is a naturally occurring phenomenon in Earth’s atmosphere. Without this effect, Earth would have average global temperatures 60 degrees Fahrenheit lower than what they are today. The best way to explain this lack of greenhouse effect is to look at our planetary neighbor, the Red Planet.
Mars. The fourth planet from the sun and approximately 33.9 million miles away from Earth. Mars’ atmosphere is just 1/100th of Earth’s. The leading study, done by numerous Mars rover missions, and reasoning behind this is because of the Sun’s violent solar winds and charged particles. The particles and winds ripped Mars’ atmosphere away over the millennia which caused the red planet’s atmosphere to dwindle to almost nothing. With this thin atmosphere, the greenhouse effect is insignificant. Even though the atmosphere is 95% carbon dioxide (which has strong heat trapping capability), it is still too thin to have any impact. This causes rapid cooling between night and day causing temperatures to plummet over 180 degrees Fahrenheit once the Sun sets. Literally, a temperature difference that is night and day. The vast temperature gradients that occur causes violent wind storms to engulf the entire planet in red dust. Mars is a prime example of a planet with little to zero greenhouse effect. There is simply not enough gases or atmosphere to keep radiation and heat inside the atmospheric “blanket” to warm the planet. The impact that a thin atmosphere has on Mars presents data that makes it essential to have a healthy and decently thick atmosphere in order for life to flourish.
Venus. The planet that is closest in size to Earth and most commonly known as our sister planet. People commonly know Venus based on these characteristics, but few realize how dangerous and downright poisonous Venus really is. On a global scale, Venus’ climate is manipulated by the strongest greenhouse effect in the solar system. Although this effect is not experienced here on Earth, Mars experiences a similar effect. With a thick cloud layer encapsulating the entire planet, 80% of incoming solar radiation is reflected back out to space. Only about 10% of said radiation penetrates the clouds and reaches the surface; the rest is absorbed by the atmosphere. How does this cause a greenhouse effect if such little solar radiation make it to the surface? Thermal radiation emitted from the surface becomes trapped within the atmosphere because of the thick cloud layer. The atmosphere is made up entirely of carbon dioxide with sulfuric acid creating the thick cloud layer that covers the planet. Venus is a prime example of a runaway greenhouse effect. Where greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, become so prevalent in the atmosphere that it traps all heat trying to escape into space. The surface temperature of Venus is roughly 864 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to melt lead. But, if one were to travel to the upper atmosphere, above the sulfuric acid clouds, they would find the temperature to be around -45 degrees Fahrenheit. Like found on Mars, substantial differences in temperature causes massive wind storms and vortexes to occur on Venus’ surface and within the atmosphere. Venus itself conveys the heat trapping capabilities that greenhouse gases can possess and how dangerous they can become if not regulated and monitored.
The greenhouse effect along with greenhouse gases is a complex subject that of course requires much more research and data. Scientists do know of the heat trapping capabilities and climatic changes that could occur if these gases are not monitored. A rise in carbon dioxide can cause a rise in water vapor due to higher amounts of evaporation because of a rise in temperatures. A rise in temperatures can also cause a rise in methane due to the melting of permafrost which has the highest amounts of methane stored. A rise in three of these greenhouse gases can have detrimental effects to Earth’s climate. Now, the greenhouse effect is not a bad occurrence to have within an atmosphere. As we explored above, without a greenhouse effect Earth could be like its neighbor, Mars, and have frigid surface temperatures. But, too much of a greenhouse effect could cause Earth to become its sister planet, Venus, and have temperatures that melt lead. Inherently, the greenhouse effect is vital for an atmosphere and planet to survive. It is also vital to watch and supervise the effect to keep it in proper balance.
To learn more about other interesting stories related to global climate issues, be sure to click on the following link: www.globalweatherclimatecenter.com/climate
©2018 Weather Forecaster Alec Kownacki