Agriculture
Watering the Air
Treating peanut allergy bit by bit
Middle school science adventures
Amphibians
Salamanders
Toads
Tree Frogs
Animals
Young Ants in the Kitchen
A Whale's Amazing Tooth
Vent Worms Like It Hot
Behavior
Brain cells take a break
Hitting the redo button on evolution
Talking with Hands
Birds
Pheasants
Roadrunners
Cassowaries
Chemistry and Materials
Watching out for vultures
These gems make their own way
Earth from the inside out
Computers
Secrets of an Ancient Computer
Troubles with Hubble
Earth from the inside out
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Watery Fate for Nature's Gliders
Three strikes wiped out woolly mammoths
Battling Mastodons
E Learning Jamaica
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Earth
Coral Islands Survive a Tsunami
Challenging the Forces of Nature
Shrinking Glaciers
Environment
To Catch a Dragonfly
Sounds and Silence
The Down Side of Keeping Clean
Finding the Past
Settling the Americas
Early Maya Writing
Salt and Early Civilization
Fish
A Jellyfish's Blurry View
Skates
Tilapia
Food and Nutrition
Food for Life
Making good, brown fat
Strong Bones for Life
GSAT English Rules
Finding Subjects and Verbs
Adjectives and Adverbs
Who vs. That vs. Which
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
Tarrant High overcoming the odds
Ministry of Education Announces 82 GSAT Scholarships for 2010
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
GSAT Scholarship
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
GSAT Mathematics
Losing with Heads or Tails
Math is a real brain bender
How a Venus Flytrap Snaps Shut
Human Body
Prime Time for Broken Bones
Workouts: Does Stretching Help?
Football Scrapes and Nasty Infections
Invertebrates
Insects
Oysters
Crabs
Mammals
Tigers
Miniature Schnauzers
Sun Bear
Parents
The Surprising Meaning and Benefits of Nursery Rhymes
Expert report highlights the importance to parents of reading to children!
Choosing a Preschool: What to Consider
Physics
Speedy stars
IceCube Science
Gaining a Swift Lift
Plants
Tracking the Sun Improves Plant Pollen
Fast-flying fungal spores
Farms sprout in cities
Reptiles
Iguanas
Copperhead Snakes
Gila Monsters
Space and Astronomy
Mercury's magnetic twisters
Pluto, plutoid: What's in a name?
Rover Makes Splash on Mars
Technology and Engineering
Model Plane Flies the Atlantic
Toy Challenge
Shape Shifting
The Parts of Speech
What is a Verb?
Adjectives and Adverbs
What is a Noun
Transportation
Middle school science adventures
Robots on the Road, Again
Are Propellers Fin-ished?
Weather
Catching Some Rays
Recipe for a Hurricane
Weekend Weather Really Is Different
Add your Article

Watering the Air

The average temperature around the world is rising. People living in the U.S. Midwest might find this fact hard to believe, though. Two new studies show that in America’s heartland, summers are now cooler and wetter than they were in years past. The scientists suggest that the change in the Midwest climate may have happened because of farming.

The first study was led by David Changnon, a climatologist at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. He presented one of the studies in January during a meeting of scientists who study weather and climate. A climatologist studies the climate of an area, which includes measuring rainfall, temperature and wind. Climatologists want to know how these factors have changed in the past, and how they’ll change in the future.

Changnon and his team studied temperature records from Chicago and 13 other sites in the Midwest. They found that since 1970, the average temperature in Illinois and Iowa during July and August has gone down — by up to one degree Fahrenheit — from what it was during the years between 1930 and 1969. Their investigation also showed that the average rainfall in those two states during those two months has increased. Between 1970 and 2009, about 0.33 inches more rain fell than between 1930 and 1969.

These two changes — lower temperatures and more rainfall — may be connected by humidity, Changnon says. Humidity is the measure of how much moisture is in the air. Humid air, which contains a lot of moisture, takes longer to heat up than dry air, Changnon notes. And humid air often releases its moisture through rainfall.

So where did the extra moisture in the air come from? Changnon points to farms in the region. As plants grow, they pull moisture from the ground and release it into the air. And among plants, soybean and corn plants release a lot of moisture. Midwestern farms now plant more soybeans and corn than in the past, with 97 percent of farmland today planted with these two crops. In the 1930s, corn and soybeans covered only about 57 percent, Changnon says. He also notes that the plants are planted closer together now than they used to be, so there are more plants per acre than in the past.

The second study, like Changnon’s, also found an increase in rainfall in the same area. But it points to another possible source for the increased moisture. Alan Robock of the Center for Environmental Prediction at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., was part of the team that produced the second study and presented the group’s findings at the same meeting as Changnon. The group includes Ying Fan, who led the study, and Anthony DeAngelis, M. D. Kustu and D. A. Robinson, all from Rutgers University.

The team found that irrigation practices in the Great Plains have changed over the years. (Irrigation is how farmers get water to crops, especially crops far from a river or other body of water. Irrigation is a way of bringing water to those crops all the time.) The researchers studied a vast area of the United States that stretches from South Dakota to Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle. They found that in 1930, farmers in that region irrigated only about 1.8 million acres of farmland, an amount roughly half the size of Connecticut. In 1980, however, farmers irrigated nearly 15 million acres — more land than Vermont and New Hampshire combined.

Much of this irrigation uses water from natural reservoirs, such as those that are underground. Plants use the water and then release it into the air, so irrigating more and more plants means that more and more water makes it into the air. Robock suspects that as farms in the Great Plains received more irrigation, they released more moisture into the air — which then was carried downwind to the Midwest, where it caused more rain.

These results by Changnon and Robock and his colleagues are the first step toward understanding a change in the weather. But it will take more studies before crop irrigation can definitely be blamed for changes in temperature and rainfall.

Watering the Air
Watering the Air








Designed and Powered by HBJamaica.com™