October 29th 2012
How does 2012 rank in terms of draughts and floods, compared
to past years? Were there more, less, an average number? List three
explanations you have found for the difference.
2012 is ranking very highly on the list of years that have had bad
droughts. In fact, it has been 56 years since a drought has affected so
much land and been so terrible. The drought has affected 48 states in
the United States and 57.2% of them are experiencing high amounts of
dryness after July of this year. Even more troubling, this is the sixth
worst drought on record. And, it doesn’t seem as if it is going to end
here. 2013 may very well hold worse droughts.
2012 also holds more floods than there have been in previous years.
If a line graph were to display how the number of floods occurring per
year were differing when studying different years, the line graph would
be going upward, and it would be getting even steeper as it went on.
Since floods and droughts are both increasing, you would think that they
would balance each other out, right? But, unfortunately, the droughts
are existing around the areas that don’t flood, and vice versa.
These floods and droughts are now occurring more because of several
reasons. One of them is that as we are altering our landscape so much,
we end up involuntarily creating ways for the land to flood. A reason
that droughts are existing in larger areas and with greater intensities
is because of the ongoing problem known as Global Warming. Our ozone
layer is getting destroyed by various “greenhouse gases” that are
causing the sun to heat up Earth a lot more. Without our protective
shield of oxygen, or our ozone, droughts will only continue to appear,
and they will emerge with greater intensity than we ever imagined
possible. The second reason that floods are occurring more often is also
because of global warming, so since the ozone layer is deteriorating,
more sunlight is coming in, thus the polar ice caps are beginning to
melt, and more floods are occurring. This is especially a big problem
because there are gigantic masses of ice covering the entire continent
of Antarctica, which is gigantic and located on the bottom of Earth. As
long as that ice is melting, the ocean levels will rise, and they have
been rising. In fact, they have risen one inch in the last decade! That
may not sound like much, but think of it as the thousands of square
miles and the trillions of gallons contained in the ocean. Then one inch
is a phenomenal amount.
As long as climate change and altering of landscapes continue, we
won’t be able to sustain costal cities for too much longer. This is bad
news for cities like New York and New Jersey, both of which are large
coastal cities. Droughts are also problems because they not only kill
crops and make it difficult for them to grow, but they also cause
wildfires all over the world.
By Duncan Henry
Worldwide, the earth we stand on is
parched. From the US to the black sea, Kazakhstan to Iraq, droughts have
severely impacted the world’s bread-baskets. The monsoon seasons in
Southern Asia are proving to be very meager. Some countries are seeing
record-high dryness. However, other parts of the world are experiencing
major floods. West and central Africa and the eastern coast of Canada
were amongst the victims. One possible explanation is global warming.
Global warming shifts precipitation patterns, making one area drier
while causing a heavy rain flow in another. This would make sense as
warm air can hold more moisture, causing high rain levels. Drought could
also be attributed to high and low air pressure systems. Where there is
a high pressure system, moisture will not rise, and vice versa. Whereas
normally high pressure systems and low pressure systems may come and go
over an area, prolonged stay of a high pressure system disrupts
evaporation and no water goes into the atmosphere. A high pressure
system is normally stalled by jet streams or cold or warm ocean
currents. Finally, droughts can be caused if the winds responsible for
carrying the water from the ocean to inland is diverted. This can result
from the wind not being strong enough, blowing in the right direction,
or at the right time. Because of this, the water does not reach its
usual destination. Mountains also disrupt this process; as vapor must
sometimes go up mountains to reach its final destination, it may reach
cold air and condensate right there. By the time the vapor has passed
the peak, only a small insignificant amount is left.
By Sophie Vo