25
Aug
2004

Wacky Weather Continues Worldwide

Unknown Country

//www.unknowncountry.com/

24-Aug-2004

Violent storms in the ocean off the U.K. and Ireland are ripping off huge chunks of cliffs and hurling the rocks long distances inland-distances scientists didn't think were possible. And a tornado has been seen at 12,000 feet in Sequoia National Park in the U.S., making it the highest elevation tornado ever recorded. This is something new, since tornadoes are a sea level phenomenon.

Tornadoes need the dense, humid air of the lower atmosphere to give them their energy. This high-altitude tornado is additional evidence that we can expect radical changes in weather patterns as the temperature difference between the stratosphere and the troposphere increases. The lower atmosphere, the troposphere, is retaining more and more heat due to rising levels of methane and carbon dioxide, while the stratosphere is getting colder because the heat is no longer reaching it. This is a major cause of the increase in violent weather that has recently been observed worldwide. It is also the reason that forecasters keep underestimating the power of storms, as happened with Hurricane Charley, which was expected to decline to a tropical storm before it struck the Florida coast. Instead, it became a Category 4 hurricane.

In the North Atlantic, storms are creating waves over 65 feet high, which are powerful enough to tear rocks off ancient cliffs and throw them inland in places like the Shetland, Orkney and Western islands in Scotland and the Arran islands in Ireland. Some of these rocks weigh around 50 tons. Since this kind of erosion is recent, it must be caused by rising sea levels and sinking coastlines, due to global warming.

Geomorphologist Jim Hansom says, "When I was asked to investigate the reason for hundreds of boulders piled up inland from [65 foot] high cliffs, I did not believe that waves could be responsible. The boulders were just to big and too heavy. But now we can show it is occurring and at an ever increasing rate."


Informant: Anna Webb
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