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42
votes
3answers
10k views

How do 'greenhouse gases' let heat in, but not let it out?

That honestly doesn't make any sense to me. How could heat pass through a gas one way but not the other? Its not like our upper atmostphere has a bunch of doors that can only open one way. To me, that ...
39
votes
4answers
7k views

Are there any uncharted waters left on earth?

While reading about the ghost ship Jiang Seng I noticed that Wikipedia claimed it was drifting in uncharted waters in the Gulf of Carpentaria. I tried to find a primary source referencing uncharted ...
32
votes
3answers
4k views

Why does Coriolis determine the rotation direction of a cyclone but not my drain?

It is a common misconception that Coriolis is responsible for the direction the water swirls down a toilet, tub or sink drain. E.g. does a toilet flush the other way in the southern hemisphere? (If ...
33
votes
5answers
6k views

How and why did the oceans form on Earth but not on other planets?

Earth is the only planet in our solar system that has copious amounts of water on it. Where did this water come from and why is there so much water on Earth compared to every other planet in the ...
23
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the cause of the jet streams?

Jet streams are fast-flowing currents of air in our earth's atmosphere. An enormous amount of energy is necessary to keep a jet stream going. Where does this come from and why?
20
votes
1answer
736 views

What data does a skilled meteorologist look at to predict thunderstorms?

An uneducated layman like me would just look at CAPE numbers and make rough guesses on possible thunderstorms. In a related but non-duplicate question, vertical wind shear is discussed. If we are ...
16
votes
1answer
374 views

What is the methodology to analyze future climatic extremes using the results of climate models?

What is the accepted methodology to predict future climatic extremes using the results of climate models? I have recently read a report about climatic extremes considering climate change (MICE, 2002)....
12
votes
1answer
1k views

Numerical weather forecasting - resources for a programmer?

There is a community wiki question over at A good book or source for climate science and meteorology basics? that talks about meteorology basics. Building on that, but with a slightly different focus,...
25
votes
3answers
33k views

Why is Earth's inner core made of an iron-nickel alloy?

This question has puzzled me for a while. I know that earth's mantle is made of different minerals, metals and rocks etc. and that has always made complete sense to me. But why is the inner core made ...
23
votes
4answers
5k views

Why is the temperature *still* rising?

2015 is the hottest year on record, and the average temperature continues to rise. I don't understand why this continues, as (over the past twenty years) so much work was put into reducing Global ...
10
votes
3answers
23k views

How to interpolate scattered data to a regular grid in Python?

I have three txt files for longitude, latitude and temperature (or let's say three lists lon, lat, temp) from scattered weather station in the UK. I would like firstly to interpolate these data in ...
37
votes
6answers
9k views

Is the sea level rise unusual?

I'm discussing climate change with a friend who is a climate change denier, basically the argument is that looking at this graph, is not clear that something unusual is going on, so the sea level rise ...
34
votes
3answers
2k views

How would plate tectonics differ if Earth had no water?

Water plays a crucial role in plate tectonics by easing the brittle and ductile deformation of the Earth's lithosphere. Water lowers the Mohr-Coulomb for brittle fractures. During ductile deformation, ...
30
votes
3answers
6k views

How would an icicle “grow” upwards?

The other day a friend of my dad's showed him a picture of an icicle that appeared to be "growing" upwards out of a crack in a sidewalk. There were no roofs, overhangs or vehicles parked near by... It ...
27
votes
6answers
6k views

How much will sea level rise if all the polar ice melts?

There are many movies about global warming, which say that melting of all polar ice would cause the whole world to suffer a huge flood. According my research (teachers, TV, Internet) people hold one ...
25
votes
2answers
714 views

Why do some planets have lots of $\mathrm{N_2}$ and others none?

Earth, Titan and Venus all have large amounts of $\mathrm{N_2}$ in their atmospheres. (In the case of Venus it's a small proportion, but Venus' atmosphere is very thick, and the total mass of $\mathrm{...
21
votes
6answers
94k views

Is there a difference between rock and stone?

I couldn't find the definitions from either source: Geology Dictionary Glossary of Geologic Terms
12
votes
1answer
793 views

Does the magnetic field really protect Earth from anything?

Many topics discussed here in Earth Science SE, tend to be about facts that are of consensus in the scientific community but not widely accepted by the general public. Instead, this one is widely ...
35
votes
5answers
3k views

How do we know the asteroids formed at the same time as earth?

In continuation of the question Why is Earth's age given by dating meteorites rather than its own rocks?, what evidence do we have that the asteroids indeed formed at the same time as earth? Is there ...
29
votes
2answers
7k views

Where on Earth is the magnetic field intensity stronger?

Are there places on Earth that have a strong magnetic field other than the magnetic north and south poles? Can living where (rare) earth magnetic ore is abundant provide a mini-magnetoshere?
25
votes
1answer
8k views

How much of a mountain is below the surface?

Is there some kind of math rule for how much does a mountain extend (depth) below the surface? I found an article like this http://www.livescience.com/6595-depth-himalayan-mountain-roots-revealed....
19
votes
2answers
313 views

Is there any consensus of what caused the Lusi Mud Volcano eruptions in Indonesia?

In May, 2006, the Lusi Mud Volcano in eastern Java, Indonesia came to life, smothering much of the surrounding land in mud. According to the article Indonesia's Infamous Mud Volcano Could Outlive ...
18
votes
1answer
359 views

How is global weather model skill measured?

The models I have in mind are the major global models such as the Global Forecast System (GFS) and the European Center for Medium range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF). These models produce numerous ...
18
votes
4answers
4k views

What would be the first thing which will render the Earth uninhabitable?

There are quite a few things which can make an otherwise habitable planet uninhabitable, and some of these will eventually happen, sooner or later: engulfed by its star when it becomes a red giant ...
17
votes
1answer
500 views

Why are weather kites no longer used (much) operationally?

Figure 1.12 from the IPCC AR5 WG1 report (reproduced below) illustrates the different instruments that have been used for weather forecasting. Most of the methods have been in continuous use since ...
16
votes
1answer
5k views

What do quasi-geostrophic and ageostrophic mean?

I know that geostrophic flow means straight wind flow that is balanced by the pressure gradient and Coriolis forces. But what do quasi-geostrophic and ageostrophic mean specifically?
15
votes
1answer
348 views

Can climate models reliably predict meteorological extremes?

This question is related to and extension of my previous question which was about the methodology used to predict future climatic extremes: What is the methodology to analyze future climatic extremes ...
15
votes
1answer
341 views

What is the predictability of El Niño/La Niña?

What is the maximum period of time into the future that an El Niño event can be forecasted with reasonable accuracy and what are the limitations in predicting the time limit?
11
votes
1answer
527 views

What generates the microseism?

Looking at seismic noise around the Earth there is commonly a peak in the seismic noise around a frequency of 200 mHz. This peak is typically referred to as the microseism (an example is shown below)....
10
votes
1answer
113 views

Rainbow dynamics?

How would steam refract light compared to fog and how would the rainbow appear? Does the temperature of the water drop or ice crystal effect the rainbow in any way? I know the size of the water drop ...
10
votes
1answer
1k views

Does natural plant decomposition release more greenhouse gases than burning

I understand that all plant matter releases CO2 as it decomposes and also when it burns in, for example, a forest fire. My assumption, upon which this question is based, is that the CO2 release is the ...
8
votes
1answer
102 views

Is there conclusive evidence to refute an earlier oxygenation of the Earth's atmosphere?

The Great Oxygenation Event (sometimes called the Great Oxidation Event (GOE), as in the journal Nature) occurred around 2.2 to 2.45 billion years ago (Frei et al. 2009). However, in the article A ...
7
votes
2answers
181 views

Does Earth risk losing its oceans to space due to global warming?

I read that we are facing the very real possibility of Earth's average temperature rising by more that 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. As I understand our planet is constantly loosing ...
7
votes
1answer
400 views

How will global warming affect climate systems like the ENSO or the MJO?

How will global warming influence climate systems such as the Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO) or the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO)?
5
votes
1answer
72 views

What actually happens to reduce the perceived color in a 'white rainbow“ or ”fog-bow"?

The image below is included in the BBC article Amazing white rainbow snapped over Scottish moor. Apparently this phenomenon is sometimes called a "fog-bow" and is characterized by the washing out of ...
4
votes
2answers
3k views

Interpolate Gaussian grids to regular fixed grids using bilinear interpolation?

I want to regrid GCM data available on Gaussian grids to regular grids, say at 1 deg X 1 deg. How to do this using CDO or Python ...
29
votes
1answer
2k views

What is the status of the Raymo & Ruddiman idea that Tibet cooled the Earth?

What is the current status of the Raymo & Ruddiman hypothesis that the uplift of the Tibetan Plateau during the Cenozoic cooled the Earth, resulting the current ice age(*)? cf. Raymo, M.E. and W....
28
votes
2answers
454 views

What would it take to confirm or refute the Snowball Earth Hypothesis?

Since Harland's sedimentary work and Budyko's models in the 1960s, geologists have hypothesized that the Earth may once have been completely frozen. There are various lines of evidence for this event. ...
23
votes
8answers
10k views

Why does the salt in the oceans not sink to the bottom?

This is something that just occurred to me. If heavier elements sink, then how can the entire ocean be salty? Shouldn't the 'salt', because of its density, all sink to the bottom of the ocean? In ...
23
votes
3answers
23k views

Why are alpine river water green - blue?

I recently visited Slovenia where I saw several rivers with a strong blue-green color. Here is an example from one of the tributaries of the Soča river near Kobarid. The locals refer to it as an "...
21
votes
2answers
3k views

How do tropopause folds form and do they have any impact on synoptic scale weather?

What is the process that creates a tropopause fold? Do these features have any significant impact(s) on weather patterns or the atmosphere?
21
votes
1answer
14k views

Do tornadoes have eyes?

In the movie Into the Storm (2014) near the end, storm chaser Pete sees the eye of a massive tornado. In 1928 (real life), Will Keller was in his barn when a huge tornado passed through. He reported ...
19
votes
1answer
60k views

Why are oceanic plates denser than continental plates?

In the theory of tectonic plates, at a convergent boundary between a continental plate and an oceanic plate, the denser plate usually subducts underneath the less dense plate. It is well known that ...
18
votes
3answers
1k views

Why does Earth have abundant oxygen in the atmosphere?

Because of photosynthesis, obviously. But then it's not actually that obvious after all, because photosynthesis is mostly balanced by respiration. We can summarise the processes of photosynthesis ...
18
votes
3answers
28k views

Why does the earth spin clockwise?

Why does earth rotate in a clockwise direction? Did a large meteor collide with earth causing earth to rotate? If that is what happened, could another, larger meteor cause earth to reverse its ...
16
votes
6answers
6k views

How to quickly or easily prove the world is spherical?

A relative of mine has recently introduced me to the modern flat earth theory, which she believes in. Setting aside for the moment that it is ridiculous, and that sending up some balloons with cameras ...
16
votes
5answers
1k views

Is global warming being moderated by latent heat of melting polar ice?

I've only had a secondary education in physics, so bear with me, but with the greenhouse effect and all, wouldn't we be much hotter already if the ice melt-rate wasn't increasing, since more (heat) ...
15
votes
1answer
2k views

Why does glacier ice look blue?

The color of the ice observed in glaciers, icebergs and crevasses is often blue. However, ice cubes and industrial ice blocks are perfectly transparent or white if not. So. Why does glacier ice look ...
15
votes
2answers
929 views

How do the known abrupt climate change events fit into the xkcd Earth temperature timeline?

The xkcd "Earth Temperature Timeline" depicts the global average temperature during the past 20,000 years, based on the known data. We already have a question about the chart's general accuracy, but I ...
15
votes
6answers
707 views

Does volcanic activity fluctuate?

According to this person's surmises, volcanic activity appers to be increasing. However, according to this report, volcanic activity is probably not increasing. My question is: Does Volcanic activity ...

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