UPDATE – We don’t know how to make it rain, but we change the weather all the time without meaning to. If you complain that it always rains on the weekend, you’re right: pollution, caused by car exhaust from commuters and factories, throws tiny particles into the air, which increase cloud formation during the week. Then it finally rains?on the weekend. But some places NEED more rain, like Phoenix. It turns out that rain has increased amost 15% there since the recent population explosion has caused an increase in things like lawns, swimming pools and golf courses.
In LiveScience.com, Robert Roy Britt quotes climatologist Marshall Shepherd as saying, "We think that these human activities can actually alter the natural system and interact with monsoon flow and mountain convection." The monsoon is a period during the summer in warm countries during which there are sudden, heavy downpours. Monsoons account for about half of Phoenix’s annual rainfall, which usually amounts to a skimpy 8 inches.
Monsoons are caused by the fact that land heats up and cools down more quickly than water, so in the summer, the land reaches a higher temperature than the nearby bodies of water. The hot air over the land tends to rise, creating an area of low pressure. This creates wind, which blows across the water and onto the land, bringing water vapor with it. When the water cools and condenses, it falls as rain.
Urbanization?paving over green spaces with heat-reflecting materials?makes cities hotter. But suburbanization may make them cooler, by increasing rainfall?at least Phoenix hopes that’s the case!
UPDATE: And Phoenix needs to cool off. Bjorn Carey writes inLiveScience.com that Phoenix has earned the title ofSweatiest City in America for the second year in a row.During a typical summer 2005 summer day, Phoenix averaged atemperature of 93.3 degrees Fahrenheit and the average adultliving there lost 26 ounces of sweat per hour if they werewalking outdoors.
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