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  • You've probably heard that weather is getting more extreme and that this is in part because

  • accumulating greenhouse gases have caused the air at earth's surface to warm by an

  • average of 0.8 degrees celsius over the last century. But how could a barely perceptible

  • rise in air temperature lead to such crazy changes in weather?

  • Well, that air temperature rise actually only amounts to 1% of the extra energy absorbed

  • by earth's atmosphere over the last century – a few percent has been absorbed by land

  • and almost all the rest has been soaked up by the oceans. That increase in ocean heat

  • content is the energy equivalent of an atomic bomb exploding every second for the last 100

  • years. And THAT matters because heat stored in the oceans has a big impact on the weather.

  • For one, the warmer the water at the surface gets, the more of it vaporizes into the air.

  • At the same time, every degree increase in air temperature raises the air's capacity

  • to hold water vapor by about 7 percent. This means parcels of air out over the ocean are

  • picking up more water than they used to, which leads to HEAVIER rains and snows. Meanwhile,

  • warmer land surfaces mean parcels of air over land are also picking up more water than they

  • used to, making dry places drier and droughts harsher.

  • Warmer oceans also make concentrated hot spots on the ocean's surface even hotter. These

  • areas of high sea surface temperatures have always helped drive the biggest storms and

  • floods, including, in recent years, both Hurricane Sandy and super-typhoon Haiyan. We don't

  • yet know for sure whether warming oceans are producing a greater number of these storms,

  • but it's basic physics that more heat in the oceans gives these kinds of storms significantly

  • more energy and destructive power when they do happen.

  • So if you've heard that the world's weather has been getting more extreme, it's not

  • just a lot of hot air. It's also a bunch of warm water.

You've probably heard that weather is getting more extreme and that this is in part because

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B1 US air warmer surface water hot air temperature

Is Climate Change Just A Lot of Hot Air?

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    Shinichiro posted on 2019/11/07
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