Summer is coming. Warm days are getting warmer and soon the intense heat of Summer will be upon us. Now it is the end of Spring. In the photo below, my horse enjoys a warm morning eating grass among the wild flowers. There is a sweet and cool wind blowing, tempering the sun’s warmth and making the day glorious.

A week ago, about 150 miles East of the meadow above, a thunderstorm blew through downtown Houston. The fierce winds sucked the glass from hundreds of windows in the skyscrapers. The streets below were thick with broken glass fragments. Billions of dollars in damage was caused by wind. The same wind that blew across the meadow this morning.

This was not a tornado or a hurricane. It was a derecho. That was a new word for disaster. A derecho is a straight line of intense and widespread damaging winds. They can travel hundreds of miles. The one that blew through Houston had 80-100 mph wind velocities.

Recent research by Prein based on “observations, high-resolution modelling and theoretical considerations… show that SLWs [straight line winds] have intensified over the past 40 years. Theoretical considerations suggest that SLWs should intensify at a rate of?~7.5% °C-1, yet the observed rates show a more pronounced increase of?~13% °C-1.” (Prein, 2023)

Also, last week, an airliner ran into some turbulence. Not the kind that makes the plane bump and your coffee slosh around, but a terrifying sudden loss of lift causing a plunge of over 6000 feet in moments. Seventy people were injured and one person died. The interior of the plane was a shambles.

“Recent research indicates that turbulence is rising and that this change is sparked by climate change, specifically elevated carbon dioxide emissions affecting air currents. Paul Williams, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Reading in England, … has found that clear air turbulence, which occurs most frequently at high altitudes and in winter, could triple by the end of the century. He said that this type of turbulence, of all categories, is increasing around the world at all flight altitudes.” (Chung, 2024)

Weather is changing. Wind in all its guises is changing. The recent events are definite signs that change is in the wind.

The Science Circle is entering into its off-season, Summer Break. This column will also go on hiatus in July and August. See you in September.

References

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About Author

Deepy (Deepthinker Oh) is an educational psychologist with a long standing love of journalism and previous experience as the editor of MANIERA magazine. Deepthinker Oh's use of the SLBN logo does not constitute approval by or a representation or endorsement from Linden Lab.

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