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2008 Tornadoes in the US Add Validity to Global Warming Predictions

Posted Jul 07 2008 7:14pm

Hail, tornado, flood! Hail, tornado, flood! We sure have seen a mess of tornadoes this year!

When describing killer storms which leave unspeakable devastation in their wake, it’s easy for a journalist to seem glib. Allow me to contextualize the following statements. They take into account only the atmospheric significance of tornadoes in the US which have struck thus far in 2008.

Living in an area which sees multiple fatalities from tornadoes most every year, I have nothing but sympathy for storm victims and their families. Nevertheless, the 2008 tornadoes in the US point to larger, equally ominous results.

The atmosphere of the Earth is self-regulating. It has to be on account of the fact that conditions in space are very harsh. Between the outermost layers of our atmosphere and the surface of the moon, temperatures drop to well below minus 400° F. That’s cold.

Outside those same protective atmospheric layers, the levels of heat and radiation are so great as to sear flesh to a crisp in a moment’s time. In other words, our atmosphere keeps us in the habitable range of roughly 100° F as a global average, from 0° F to 100° F.

How does this relate to tornadoes and global warming predictions? In previous posts here at KBC, I have noted that hurricanes are important to the health of our atmosphere. Speaking strictly in terms of our environment, hurricanes are vital. Tornadoes are similarly important. Here’s how that works...

At any given moment, the sun, the same ball of radiation which can sear flesh to a crisp in a moment’s time, heats the surface of the Earth differently. This is simple physics, driven by our orbital pattern and axial rotation. Those differences cause tension to build in the atmosphere. That tension must be dissipated. Wind storms such as hurricanes and tornadoes are, in effect, pressure release valves for the atmosphere.

In 2008, we’ve seen tornadoes in the US strike with unusually high frequency and ferocity. This is caused by several factors, primarily wind sheer. The disruptions to our typical atmospheric patterns which global warming causes in turn cause large swings in temperature, usually from hot to cold. Tornadoes are the localized atmospheric response to rapid shifts. Hurricanes are macro (or regional) responses but differ in two ways:

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