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4.2 Kiloyear Event
The 4.2-kiloyear BP aridification event was one of the most severe climatic events of the Holocene epoch. It defines the beginning of the current Meghalayan age in the Holocene epoch. Starting in about 2200 BC, it probably lasted the entire 22nd century BC. It has been hypothesised to have caused the collapse of the Old Kingdom in Egypt as well as the Akkadian Empire in Mesopotamia, and the Liangzhu culture in the lower Yangtze River area. The drought may also have initiated the collapse of the Indus Valley Civilisation, with some of its population moving southeastward to follow the movement of their desired habitat, as well as the migration of Indo-European-speaking people into India.
Some scientists disagree with this conclusion and point out that the event was neither a global drought nor did it happen in a clear timeline.
- "4.2 Kiloyear Event" | 2019-12-16 | 136 Upvotes 97 Comments
Bacteria in clouds
In meteorology, a cloud is an aerosol consisting of a visible mass of minute liquid droplets, frozen crystals, or other particles suspended in the atmosphere of a planetary body or similar space. Water or various other chemicals may compose the droplets and crystals. On Earth, clouds are formed as a result of saturation of the air when it is cooled to its dew point, or when it gains sufficient moisture (usually in the form of water vapor) from an adjacent source to raise the dew point to the ambient temperature.
They are seen in the Earth's homosphere (which includes the troposphere, stratosphere, and mesosphere). Nephology is the science of clouds, which is undertaken in the cloud physics branch of meteorology.
The two methods of naming clouds in their respective layers of the atmosphere are Latin and common. Cloud types in the troposphere, the atmospheric layer closest to Earth's surface, have Latin names due to the universal adoption of Luke Howard's nomenclature. Formally proposed in 1802, it became the basis of a modern international system that divides clouds into five physical forms that appear in any or all of three altitude levels (formerly known as étages). These physical types, in approximate ascending order of convective activity, include stratiform sheets, cirriform wisps and patches, stratocumuliform layers (mainly structured as rolls, ripples, and patches), cumuliform heaps, and very large cumulonimbiform heaps that often show complex structures. The physical forms are divided by altitude level into 10 basic genus-types.
The Latin names for applicable high-level genera in the troposphere carry a cirro- prefix, and an alto- prefix is added to the names of the mid-level genus-types. Clouds with sufficient vertical extent to occupy more than one altitude level are officially classified as low- or mid-level according to the altitude range at which each initially forms. However they are also more informally classified as multi-level or vertical, which along with low level clouds, do not carry any altitude related prefixes. Most of the genera can be subdivided into species and further subdivided into varieties. Very low stratiform clouds that extend down to the Earth's surface are given the common names fog and mist, but have no Latin names.
Several cloud types that form higher up in the stratosphere and mesosphere have common names for their main types, which may have the appearance of stratiform sheets, cirriform wisps, or statocumuliform bands or ripples. They are seen infrequently, mostly in the polar regions of Earth. Clouds have been observed in the atmospheres of other planets and moons in the Solar System and beyond. However, due to their different temperature characteristics, they are often composed of other substances such as methane, ammonia, and sulfuric acid, as well as water.
The tabular overview that follows is very broad in scope. It draws from several methods of cloud classification, both formal and informal, used in different levels of the Earth's homosphere by a number of cited authorities. Despite some differences in methodologies and terminologies, the classification schemes seen in this article can be harmonized by using a cross-classifation of form and level to derive the 10 tropospheric genera, the fog and mist that forms at surface level, and several additional major types above the troposphere. The cumulus genus includes four species that indicate vertical size and structure. This table should therefore not be seen as a strict or singular classification, but as an illustration of how various major cloud types are related to each other and defined through a full range of altitude levels from Earth's surface to the "edge of space".
- "Bacteria in clouds" | 2010-04-01 | 18 Upvotes 3 Comments
GOES 3 satellite
GOES-3, known as GOES-C before becoming operational, is an American geostationary weather and communications satellite. It was originally built for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as part of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite system, and was launched in June 1978. It is positioned in geostationary orbit, from where it was initially used for weather forecasting in the United States. Since ceasing to function as a weather satellite in 1989, it has been used as a communications satellite, and has spent over thirty-eight years in operation. GOES-3 was decommissioned 29 June 2016 at the CSTARS facility in Miami, Florida.
GOES-3 was built by Ford Aerospace, and is based on the satellite bus developed for the SMS programme. At launch it had a mass of 627 kilograms (1,382 lb).
- "GOES 3 satellite" | 2016-06-22 | 18 Upvotes 11 Comments
A hypercane is a hypothetical class of extreme tropical cyclone
A hypercane is a hypothetical class of extreme tropical cyclone that could form if ocean temperatures reached approximately 50 °C (122 °F), which is 15 °C (27 °F) warmer than the warmest ocean temperature ever recorded. Such an increase could be caused by a large asteroid or comet impact, a large supervolcanic eruption, a large submarine flood basalt, or extensive global warming. There is some speculation that a series of hypercanes resulting from an impact by a large asteroid or comet contributed to the demise of the non-avian dinosaurs. The hypothesis was created by Kerry Emanuel of MIT, who also coined the term.
- "A hypercane is a hypothetical class of extreme tropical cyclone" | 2017-09-11 | 61 Upvotes 18 Comments
You don't know ice. Neither do I, apparently
Ice is water frozen into a solid state. Depending on the presence of impurities such as particles of soil or bubbles of air, it can appear transparent or a more or less opaque bluish-white color.
In the Solar System, ice is abundant and occurs naturally from as close to the Sun as Mercury to as far away as the Oort cloud objects. Beyond the Solar System, it occurs as interstellar ice. It is abundant on Earth's surface – particularly in the polar regions and above the snow line – and, as a common form of precipitation and deposition, plays a key role in Earth's water cycle and climate. It falls as snowflakes and hail or occurs as frost, icicles or ice spikes.
Ice molecules can exhibit eighteen or more different phases (packing geometries) that depend on temperature and pressure. When water is cooled rapidly (quenching), up to three different types of amorphous ice can form depending on the history of its pressure and temperature. When cooled slowly correlated proton tunneling occurs below −253.15 °C (20 K, −423.67 °F) giving rise to macroscopic quantum phenomena. Virtually all the ice on Earth's surface and in its atmosphere is of a hexagonal crystalline structure denoted as ice Ih (spoken as "ice one h") with minute traces of cubic ice denoted as ice Ic. The most common phase transition to ice Ih occurs when liquid water is cooled below 0 °C (273.15 K, 32 °F) at standard atmospheric pressure. It may also be deposited directly by water vapor, as happens in the formation of frost. The transition from ice to water is melting and from ice directly to water vapor is sublimation.
Ice is used in a variety of ways, including cooling, winter sports and ice sculpture.
- "You don't know ice. Neither do I, apparently" | 2014-07-23 | 13 Upvotes 11 Comments
The official term for the smell after it rains
Petrichor () is the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil. The word is constructed from Greek petra (πέτρα), meaning "stone", and īchōr (ἰχώρ), the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology.
- "Petrichor" | 2022-12-27 | 151 Upvotes 44 Comments
- "The official term for the smell after it rains" | 2009-12-21 | 148 Upvotes 36 Comments
Solar storm of 1859
The solar storm of 1859 (also known as the Carrington Event) was a powerful geomagnetic storm during solar cycle 10 (1855–1867). A solar coronal mass ejection (CME) hit Earth's magnetosphere and induced the largest geomagnetic storm on record, September 1–2, 1859. The associated "white light flare" in the solar photosphere was observed and recorded by British astronomers Richard C. Carrington (1826–1875) and Richard Hodgson (1804–1872). The storm caused strong auroral displays and wrought havoc with telegraph systems. The now-standard unique IAU identifier for this flare is SOL1859-09-01.
A solar storm of this magnitude occurring today would cause widespread electrical disruptions, blackouts and damage due to extended outages of the electrical grid. The solar storm of 2012 was of similar magnitude, but it passed Earth's orbit without striking the planet, missing by nine days.
- "Solar Storm of 1859" | 2020-05-04 | 148 Upvotes 84 Comments
- "Solar storm of 1859" | 2018-11-04 | 109 Upvotes 45 Comments
A sun dog (or sundog) or mock sun, formally called a parhelion (plural parhelia) in meteorology, is an atmospheric optical phenomenon that consists of a bright spot to one or both sides of the Sun. Two sun dogs often flank the Sun within a 22° halo.
The sun dog is a member of the family of halos, caused by the refraction of sunlight by ice crystals in the atmosphere. Sun dogs typically appear as a pair of subtly colored patches of light, around 22° to the left and right of the Sun, and at the same altitude above the horizon as the Sun. They can be seen anywhere in the world during any season, but are not always obvious or bright. Sun dogs are best seen and most conspicuous when the Sun is near the horizon.
- "Sun Dog" | 2019-09-04 | 12 Upvotes 2 Comments
The tempest prognosticator, also known as the leech barometer, is a 19th-century invention by George Merryweather in which leeches are used in a barometer. The twelve leeches are kept in small bottles inside the device; when they become agitated by an approaching storm they attempt to climb out of the bottles and trigger a small hammer which strikes a bell. The likelihood of a storm is indicated by the number of times the bell is struck.
- "Tempest prognosticator" | 2019-09-27 | 47 Upvotes 6 Comments
Urban heat island
An urban heat island (UHI) is an urban area or metropolitan area that is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas due to human activities. The temperature difference is usually larger at night than during the day, and is most apparent when winds are weak. UHI is most noticeable during the summer and winter. The main cause of the urban heat island effect is from the modification of land surfaces. Waste heat generated by energy usage is a secondary contributor. As a population center grows, it tends to expand its area and increase its average temperature. The term heat island is also used; the term can be used to refer to any area that is relatively hotter than the surrounding, but generally refers to human-disturbed areas.
Monthly rainfall is greater downwind of cities, partially due to the UHI. Increases in heat within urban centers increases the length of growing seasons, and decreases the occurrence of weak tornadoes. The UHI decreases air quality by increasing the production of pollutants such as ozone, and decreases water quality as warmer waters flow into area streams and put stress on their ecosystems.
Not all cities have a distinct urban heat island, and the heat island characteristics depend strongly on the background climate of the area in which the city is located. Mitigation of the urban heat island effect can be accomplished through the use of green roofs and the use of lighter-colored surfaces in urban areas, which reflect more sunlight and absorb less heat.
Concerns have been raised about possible contribution from urban heat islands to global warming. While some lines of research did not detect a significant impact, other studies have concluded that heat islands can have measurable effects on climate phenomena at the global scale.
- "Urban heat island" | 2019-07-15 | 41 Upvotes 15 Comments