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Do Storms Target Cities?

Recent extreme weather includes a tornado that hit Brooklyn. Sometimes it seems that storms are worse over cities?especially on the weekends?and scientists say this is TRUE. In fact, climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions produced by humans been changing global rainfall patterns over the entire 20th Century.

In LiveScience.com, Andrea Thompson says, "Scientists have noted before that urban environments seem to alter the behavior of storms, but had not made observations of specific storms." But that?s all changed: researchers made computer models of an extreme thunderstorm in Baltmore in 2004 and found that 30% more rain fell in the city and would have had there been no buildings there and there were as many lightning strikes in two hours as Baltimore normally has in an entire year. Thompson quotes Princeton researcher Alexandros Ntelekos as saying, "It's as if all of a sudden the lightning can 'feel' the city." How can this be?

It could be due to the "heat island" effect. Cities radiate heat from all the electricity burned in them and the human activity going on, and this could attract storms, since warmer air holds more water. Some researchers think that trailer parks attract tornadoes because mobile homes are made of metal, and thus are warmer than nearby buildings made of other materials, such as brick, which is usually cool to the touch.

BBC News reports on new research showing that human pollution has been changing the climate for over 100 years, especially in the middle of the North Hemisphere (the area of the US and the UK). During this same period, India and Africa have gotten LESS rain.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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