Agriculture
Making the most of a meal
Springing forward
Earth-Friendly Fabrics
Amphibians
Bullfrogs
Newts
Tree Frogs
Animals
Staying Away from Sick Lobsters
Awake at Night
Not Slippery When Wet
Behavior
The Science Fair Circuit
Why Cats Nap and Whales Snooze
Face values
Birds
Macaws
Pigeons
Turkeys
Chemistry and Materials
The newest superheavy in town
Putting the Squeeze on Toothpaste
Hair Detectives
Computers
Getting in Touch with Touch
Hubble trouble doubled
A Light Delay
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Dinosaurs Grow Up
Battling Mastodons
Dino Babies
E Learning Jamaica
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
Earth
Quick Quake Alerts
In Antarctica watch the heat (and your step)
Earth from the inside out
Environment
Bald Eagles Forever
Saving Wetlands
Lessons from a Lonely Tortoise
Finding the Past
Stone Age Sole Survivors
Preserving Ancient Warrior Paint
Decoding a Beverage Jar
Fish
Tuna
Eels
Goldfish
Food and Nutrition
How Super Are Superfruits?
Healing Honey
Chew for Health
GSAT English Rules
Subject and Verb Agreement
Problems with Prepositions
Finding Subjects and Verbs
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
Mastering The GSAT Exam
Scotiabank Jamaica Foundation Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) Scholarships
Tarrant High overcoming the odds
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
GSAT stars reap scholarship glory
GSAT Practice Papers | GSAT Mathematics | Maths
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
GSAT Mathematics
Losing with Heads or Tails
How a Venus Flytrap Snaps Shut
10 Common Mistakes When Preparing for the GSAT Math Test
Human Body
Running with Sneaker Science
A Long Trek to Asia
Sleeping Soundly for a Longer Life
Invertebrates
Arachnids
Termites
Insects
Mammals
Otters
Felines
Squirrels
Parents
Expert report highlights the importance to parents of reading to children!
Choosing a Preschool: What to Consider
How children learn
Physics
Spin, Splat, and Scramble
Dreams of Floating in Space
Speedy stars
Plants
When Fungi and Algae Marry
Fastest Plant on Earth
Assembling the Tree of Life
Reptiles
Garter Snakes
Snakes
Boa Constrictors
Space and Astronomy
A Puffy Planetary Puzzle
Icy Red Planet
A Galaxy Far, Far, Far Away
Technology and Engineering
Bionic Bacteria
Switchable Lenses Improve Vision
Squeezing Oil from Old Wells
The Parts of Speech
What is a Preposition?
What is a Verb?
Adjectives and Adverbs
Transportation
Tinkering With the Basic Bike
Seen on the Science Fair Scene
Reach for the Sky
Weather
The Best Defense Is a Good Snow Fence
Science loses out when ice caps melt
A Dire Shortage of Water
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™