You cannot complete a school career without dealing with the Earth’s water cycle sooner or later. Technical diagrams are mostly intended to enhance the process of knowledge, and of course rivers should not be lost, which contributes to the transfer of water that has evaporated from the sea and fallen to the land as rain or snow back into the sea. So much for the ground part of the matter. But how does water actually go from A to B on higher floors? Much more than arrows, creatively called “the wind,” do not occur for diagrams. This does not do justice to the complexity of atmospheric processes better than if everything that happens below were summed up with “Blubb”.
In fact, there is a kind of river in the sky, which is also called in technical language: “atmospheric rivers”. It is by no means the only means of transportation there. But some of the most interesting are because of the enormous mass of water they can contain: the celestial rivers of the world, which can be thousands of kilometers long and hundreds of kilometers wide, carrying as much water as 27 Mississippi-shaped rivers; Much of the moisture is moving from the subtropics and mid-latitudes towards the poles because of them. In the western coastal regions of North and South America, South Africa and Europe in particular, it is an important source of moisture, but it is often the cause of heavy precipitation and strong winds.
Rivers in the sky can also shape the global pattern of warming
It is invisible to the human eye because it mostly contains water vapor, which only condenses and forms visible clouds when it reaches cooler areas or rises into a mountain range. It can only be observed by satellite and radio probe. How these rivers originated is still highly speculative, says Manfred Wendish of the University of Leipzig. “But it is very plausible that it will become more severe with global warming.” Ultimately, it brings more moisture and energy into the atmosphere.
recently in The nature of climate change published work Seung Baek and Juan Lora of Yale University modeled the evolution of celestial rivers: according to them, air pollution previously had a weak effect that compensated for the intense effect of warming. However, global warming in the coming decades is likely to lead to a “sharp intensification”: thus, celestial rivers can often overflow. Which, under certain conditions, can also lead to severe precipitation and flooding.
But there is another reason why it is worth observing the development of celestial rivers: they can form a pattern of warming, because some of them extend far to the north. “You have to imagine atmospheric rivers like hoses,” says Wendisch. “You can inject moisture like a syringe, which can then spread throughout the Arctic.” Heat and water vapor seep into the Arctic, which acts as a greenhouse gas and also forms clouds. They cover the area like a warm blanket. Such processes can help the Arctic to warm up especially quickly.
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