Interpretation of empirical data connecting weather patterns with forests has been met with scepticism and been largely ignored by meteorologists, climate change scientists and the media, but we ought to consider the proposal.
Dr Anastassia Makarieva and Professor Victor Gorshkov of the St Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute have proposed that it is not temperature differences which are the primary drivers of wind patterns, but instead evaporation and condensation are much larger contributors to wind generation than anyone has previously recognised.
They proposed a year ago that when water condenses out of the air it lowers the atmospheric pressure, causing air to sweep in from surrounding locations – ie wind. Moreover, most of the water vapour in the atmosphere sits fairly close to the ground and condenses as it rises into cooler air so winds sweep in to replace the condensing water vapour. This airflow encourages further evaporation, followed by more condensation in the air column above, creating a positive feedback loop.
Most of the backlash to this idea is understandable since it challenges current thinking. However, the idea is not that far fetched and doesn’t suggest that temperature is immaterial. However, it raises the impact of forest cover to the dynamics of weather patterns, because forests offer a much greater surface area for evaporation and condensation than grassland or even ocean. This new understanding increases the need to preserve forests and rebuild them.
Stephen Luntz points out that:
The physics aside, the primary implications of this theory are:
1) The Earth is a delicate system and we mess with it at our peril.
2) Forests matter, and are worth much more standing than as paper.
3) Intact ecosystems do their jobs much better than the crude imitations we like to put in their place after was have destroyed them.
C’mon everyone, let’s smarten up!
Forensics, Fossils and Fruitbats: The Word For World Really Might Be Forest
New Scientist: Keep rainforests – they drive the planet’s winds