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30
votes
1answer
3k views

What factors determine the number of Hadley cells for a planet?

We know (think?) that Earth has three Hadley cells per hemisphere, but from observing gas giants such as Jupiter, we see that they have many more cells. According to a link from a comment in this ...
34
votes
4answers
13k views

How can we determine the size and composition of Earth's inner core?

From Wikipedia: Earth's inner core is Earth's innermost part and is a primarily solid ball with a radius of about 1,220 km (760 mi). (This is about 70% of the Moon's radius.) It is believed to consist ...
34
votes
3answers
14k views

Why is Earth's age given by dating meteorites rather than its own rocks?

Reading a course on Precambrian, I read that: Earth Age (around 4.5 billion years) is dated thanks to the meteorites hitting Earth during its formation rather than the inner materials composing the ...
28
votes
2answers
35k views

Why are there no hurricanes in the southern Atlantic basin?

We see tropical cyclones (going by different names e.g. hurricane, typhoon, cyclone) all over the tropics, but it seems that there are never any storms in the southern Atlantic. See this map of ...
52
votes
4answers
44k views

How many trees would I have to plant to solve Global Warming?

According to Nasa, causes of the Earth's greenhouse effect include water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and CFCs. Carbon dioxide gets the most press, and NASA's page says: Carbon ...
13
votes
1answer
30k views

What are the high field strength and large ion lithophile (HFS or HFSE & LIL or LILE) elements?

There are two groups of elements that are frequently mentioned when discussing incompatible trace elements. They are the high field strength elements (HFS or HFSE) and the large ion lithophile ...
34
votes
3answers
3k views

How does anthropogenic heating affect global warming?

Anthropogenic-sourced greenhouse gases are commonly cited as the main source for human-caused climate change. However, something that I never see discussed is the actual heat produced by human ...
14
votes
1answer
1k views

What are the causes of the supercontinent cycle?

Throughout geologic history, Earth's continents have broken apart and come together to form supercontinents multiple times, in a somewhat regular period, known as the supercontinent cycle. The length ...
50
votes
4answers
6k views

How much oil is created each year?

We all know that oil is an essentially nonrenewable resource over human time scales. However, I am currently working on an activity for high schoolers that teaches them to predict how long humans can ...
33
votes
7answers
121k views

How high must one be for the curvature of the earth to be visible to the eye?

I would like to ask that at what distance from the Earth's surface the curvature of the Earth is visible. What layer of the atmosphere is this? I've noticed that at the height of 9-12 Km (the view ...
9
votes
7answers
26k views

Is there any experiment to prove that CO2 with the atmosphere concentration can have greenhouse effect?

All gas molecules have the capability to absorb radiation energy. $\rm{CO}_2$ has much less capability to absorb radiation energy, comparing with water vapor. In Earth's atmosphere currently $\rm{CO}...
24
votes
7answers
11k views

Could the Earth's core lose its heat?

Will all the drilling and digging to use the Earth's natural heat as geothermal energy affect the Earth's core, causing it to cool down? If so, would it result in an ice age? If not, how does the ...
33
votes
3answers
9k views

Why do felsic materials have lower melting points than mafic?

It is clear from Bowen's reaction series that more felsic minerals have lower melting points than mafic minerals. As far as I know, the same is true of quenched glasses. Felsics have a higher degree ...
19
votes
1answer
5k views

Where does wind come from?

Wind is (according to Wikipedia) the flow of gases on a large scale.On the surface of the Earth, wind consists of the bulk movement of air. What forces would cause such a mass movement of air?
14
votes
3answers
5k views

What do continents “lay” on?

It's a simple question.. What do continents "lay" on? Do they float on water? or are they huge bodies that "emerge" from the sea floor/bed? are they connected to the bottom of the oceans? Hope the ...
20
votes
2answers
2k views

In what geological situations can I find gold?

I've heard that gold ore is often associated with quartz veins. What geological processes enable gold particles to naturally cluster together like this? What characteristics/properties should I look ...
5
votes
2answers
334 views

Is non-randomly-sampled historical data representative?

I'm a global warming skeptic, and one of my concerns is the accuracy of historical global temperatures. Since these temperatures weren't sampled at random locations or gridded points, can they be ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

How to compute du/dx and dv/dy in moisture flux convergence?

I have $u$-wind, $v$-wind and specific humidity. I would like to compute moisture flux convergence at a grid point. So I need to compute the value of $q(\frac{du}{dx} + \frac{dv}{dy})$ My question is ...
10
votes
1answer
741 views

Resources for learning the technical parts of atmospheric modeling

I'm a computer/atmospheric science undergrad and I'm trying to get into atmospheric modeling. Any recommendations for resources to get going or to learn about approaches? I can handle fairly technical ...
26
votes
3answers
3k views

Equinoxes and solstices: start of the season or mid-season?

In the United States, the upcoming autumnal equinox is marked on most calendars as the "first day of autumn." Similarly the solstices are commonly called the "first day of summer" and "first day of ...
21
votes
3answers
7k views

What percent of the Earth's core is uranium?

What percent of the Earth's core is uranium? And how much of the heat at the core is from radioactive decay rather than other forces?
25
votes
4answers
2k views

Can mining trigger earthquakes?

Are earthquakes more common in mining regions than they would otherwise be? e.g. is the frequency of earthquakes in those regions different when mining is occurring than when it is not? I am ...
16
votes
2answers
2k views

At what point does plate tectonics stop?

As the core and mantle of the earth cools, it will reach a point where new crust cannot be produced. How can this point be calculated? If we can, has anyone done such calculations? Thanks!
14
votes
1answer
925 views

Do ringwoodite minerals point to an “ocean's worth” of water, or a true subterranean ocean?

Appears that the answer is that it is highly likely that the water that the ringwoodite minerals point to is an "ocean's worth" of water, not a true subterranean ocean. Do ringwoodite minerals ...
12
votes
3answers
6k views

Why is Earth's Core Iron?

The two major constituents of the Earth's core are iron and nickel. In documentaries and scientific conversations, iron gets more attention than nickel, probably because it makes up a bigger ...
5
votes
1answer
185 views

What happens when the North and South poles flip?

How long does it take the magnetic field to move once the poles start to flip? What environmentally would change? Does the core of the Earth flip? The magnetic poles are moving now. When will it ...
4
votes
1answer
588 views

Why is uranium only in the crust, really?

As I know, uranium is currently thought that it is mainly in the crust and not in the core or in the mantle. The reason for that it is a siderophile element which means it won't be solved in molten ...
97
votes
6answers
20k views

How can a storm drop 40 inches (1 metre) of rain?

Hurricane Harvey dumped more that 20 inches (500 mm) of rain over a large region, with 40+ (>1000 mm) in some spots... and much more expected. How is that possible? Does the atmosphere really hold ...
61
votes
6answers
408k views

Why does lightning strike from the ground-up?

The enlightening image below is of a lightning strike slowed down at 10,000 frames per second. It can be seen that the most intense flash produced from the lightening occurs in the direction from ...
85
votes
3answers
30k views

Impossible or improbable? Hurricane crossing the equator

No known hurricane has ever crossed the equator. Hurricanes require the Coriolis force to develop and generally form at least 5° away from the equator since the Coriolis force is zero there. Are ...
43
votes
6answers
99k views

Are Richter-magnitude 10 earthquakes possible?

The largest earthquake since 1900 according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) was Richter-9.5 magnitude quake in Chile in 1960. Are magnitude 10 earthquakes possible? If so, what is the ...
29
votes
4answers
4k views

How do weather models work?

We use different weather models all the time, such as the ECMWF and the GFS. These models are simply amazing to me. How do these models work? I know they have to take in various data points - what ...
20
votes
2answers
4k views

What are the major differences between weather models and climate models?

Some weather models include GFS (Global Forecast System) and NAM (North American Mesoscale Model). Some climate models include CCSM (Community Climate System Model) and the NASA GISS (Goddard ...
40
votes
2answers
6k views

Farthest point from the center of the Earth

At first glance, this seems like such a simple question of "What's the highest point on Earth". However, I also know that the Earth isn't perfectly round. So that "highest point" may be in a ...
30
votes
4answers
43k views

Is it possible for rivers to freeze completely and stop flowing?

Is it possible for rivers to freeze completely in the winter and stop flowing? Are there known examples of this? If yes, how large can these rivers be and where does the water go? There are several ...
28
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 ...
18
votes
2answers
6k views

Why does the Hadley cell descend at 30 degrees?

George Hadley's initial model of the Hadley cell described air as being heated at the equator, ascending, and then moving aloft pole-wards where it would cool and descend. Meanwhile surface air would ...
14
votes
4answers
871 views

How did plants adapt to $\small\sf{CO_2}$ levels past 400k years? Why won't they do it again?

(Description from climate.nasa.gov: This graph, based on the comparison of atmospheric samples contained in ice cores and more recent direct measurements, provides evidence that atmospheric $\small\sf{...
36
votes
3answers
33k views

Why is Earth's inner core solid?

I have never understood why earth's inner core is solid. Considering that the inner core is made of an iron-nickel alloy (melting point around 1350 C to 1600 C) and the temperature of the inner core ...
14
votes
2answers
64k views

Are clouds a gas, liquid, and/or solid?

Are clouds a solid, liquid, or gas? I have been looking online and they are often described ambiguously as a "mass". For instance, from NASA: A cloud is a mass of water drops or ice crystals ...
23
votes
3answers
52k views

How do I convert specific humidity to relative humidity?

How do I convert specific humidity to relative humidity? What variables are needed (e.g. air temperature, pressure, etc.)?
23
votes
3answers
842 views

How good were climate models of the 1990s at predicting the global temperature trends of the 2000s/2010s?

Was there a significant bias between the ensemble of climate models and the long-term temperature trends? What about spatial patterns?
14
votes
4answers
3k views

Why do greenhouse gases affect ocean temperature so much?

As I understand it, greenhouse gases absorb infrared radiation from the sun. Much of that radiation would otherwise continue and be absorbed on the planet surface in the ocean or on land. If CO2 ...
12
votes
2answers
9k views

If the Earth were a smooth spheroid, how deep would the ocean be?

At the moment there are deep seas and high mountains. But imagine that the land elevation of the Earth is equal everywhere. How deep would the ocean be in that case?
31
votes
2answers
1k views

How much of the current global warming is due to human influence?

Approximately what proportion of the global warming seen over the the last century is attributed to anthropogenic sources?
26
votes
4answers
6k views

Why is relative sea-level falling in Hudson Bay?

Why is the sea level in Hudson Bay decreasing so much? Hudson Bay is pretty far up north, much closer to glaciers. Would it make sense for it to recede at this level with sources of fresh water ...
20
votes
3answers
1k views

What are rare earths and why do they cluster near alkaline magmatism?

'Rare earths' play a vital role in the modern economy, and they are becoming more of a point of focus in geopolitical realms. What are 'rare earths' and why do they appear to cluster in association ...
19
votes
1answer
1k views

What fraction of dry land is below sea level?

Someone just asked me if it would be practical to counter the rise of sea level by pumping water into storage on land. It struck me that if there is enough land below sea level, this would require ...
18
votes
1answer
50k views

How long until Earth's core solidifies?

How much longer does Earth have until the core turns solid? Does global warming change these estimates at all?
17
votes
4answers
14k views

What would be the effect of bringing seawater pipes to the Sahara desert?

This is a childhood dream. What would happen if pipes were installed (similar in principle to the Great Man-Made River, but for seawater) to continuously pump seawater into the Sahara desert. Let'...

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