Villagers With Pitchforks

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Global Warming: A Demonstration

I was reading a post over on Making Light today which mentioned the seemingly paradoxical fact that the more intense winter weather we're experiencing is caused by global warming.

How can this be? Let's do a demo. You'll need the following household items:
  • A pan or pot. If it's Pyrex, it will be a bit easier to observe the results.
  • Half a pan of cold water.
  • A cup of hot water.
  • A couple of ice cubes.
  • Two different drops of food coloring. I use red and blue.
  • The kitchen stove.
The pan is your planet.
The water is your atmosphere.
The food coloring is there to show atmospheric motion.

  1. Half fill the pan with cold water and place on the stove.
  2. Slowly add a small amount of hot water to one side of the pan.
  3. Slowly add a couple of ice cubes to the other side of the pan.
  4. Put a couple of drops of food coloring in opposite sides of the pan. A drop of red on the hot water, a drop of blue where you added the ice.. These are your simulated air masses.
  5. Watch for five minutes. The convection from the temperature differences will slowly move the dyes around. You've created weather on a small scale.
  6. Now add global warming: Turn the stove on for five minutes. Continue watching. The dyes will mix faster.
  7. You're done.
That's what's going on. The energy from global warming goes into the atmosphere, and the storms become more energetic. Even the winter storms.


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