Agriculture
Watering the Air
Chicken Eggs as Drug Factories
New Gene Fights Potato Blight
Amphibians
Tree Frogs
Toads
Bullfrogs
Animals
Saving Africa's Wild Dogs
A Meal Plan for Birds
Ultrasonic Frogs Raise the Pitch
Behavior
Face values
Puberty gone wild
Babies Prove Sound Learners
Birds
Finches
Cardinals
Cranes
Chemistry and Materials
Bandages that could bite back
Sticking Around with Gecko Tape
Heaviest named element is official
Computers
Programming with Alice
Getting in Touch with Touch
Two monkeys see a more colorful world
Dinosaurs and Fossils
A Living Fossil
Meet the new dinos
Middle school science adventures
E Learning Jamaica
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Earth
Salty, Old and, Perhaps, a Sign of Early Life
Quick Quake Alerts
The Pacific Ocean's Bald Spot
Environment
A Change in Climate
When Fungi and Algae Marry
Giant snakes invading North America
Finding the Past
A Long Haul
Meet your mysterious relative
Stone Age Sole Survivors
Fish
Flashlight Fishes
Perches
Whale Sharks
Food and Nutrition
Chocolate Rules
Sponges' secret weapon
Turning to Sweets, Fats to Calm the Brain
GSAT English Rules
Adjectives and Adverbs
Subject and Verb Agreement
Whoever vs. Whomever
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
GSAT Exam Preparation
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
How are students placed after passing the GSAT exam
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
Access denied - Disabled boy aces GSAT
GSAT Scholarship
GSAT Mathematics
GSAT Practice Papers | GSAT Mathematics | Maths
Math and our number sense: PassGSAT.com
Prime Time for Cicadas
Human Body
The tell-tale bacteria
Opening a Channel for Tasting Salt
Taste Messenger
Invertebrates
Flies
Squid
Spiders
Mammals
Narwhals
Moose
Sperm Whale
Parents
What Not to Say to Emerging Readers
Children and Media
The Surprising Meaning and Benefits of Nursery Rhymes
Physics
Road Bumps
Invisibility Ring
Powering Ball Lightning
Plants
City Trees Beat Country Trees
Surprise Visitor
Fungus Hunt
Reptiles
Komodo Dragons
Anacondas
Turtles
Space and Astronomy
Catching a Comet's Tail
Phantom Energy and the Big Rip
Holes in Martian moon mystery
Technology and Engineering
Crime Lab
Space Umbrellas to Shield Earth
Are Propellers Fin-ished?
The Parts of Speech
Adjectives and Adverbs
Problems with Prepositions
Countable and Uncountable Nouns
Transportation
Tinkering With the Basic Bike
Ready, unplug, drive
Seen on the Science Fair Scene
Weather
Recipe for a Hurricane
Weekend Weather Really Is Different
Either Martians or Mars has gas
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™