10 Unbelievable Weather and Climate Facts
Weather patterns have tremendous impacts on people and ecosystems on Earth.
All of our weather we experience on Earth occurs in the troposphere, which is where we live.
And today we’re going to show some of the most unbelievable weather facts on Earth.
Here are 10 weather facts for weather hobbyists and non-meteorologists. Let’s get started.
1. One billion tons of water falls every minute
Clouds are like floating reservoirs of water. Like squeezing a sponge, they redistribute water as rain, sleet and snow. One billion tons of water falls every minute.
On average, the most rainfall occurs at the equator and tropical regions. This is because it experiences the most heating from the sun and has a lot of oceans.
On the other hand, polar regions don’t have as much rain because the air is dry. For example, Antarctica is the world’s largest desert. There’s water there but precipitation rates are very low.
2. Severe weather causes billions of dollars in damage
Severe weather like tornadoes, hurricanes and flooding have displaced people from homes. Also, weather events cost billions in damage per year.
For example, hurricanes cost an estimated $28 billion per year just in the United States. In 2017, weather-related disasters costed a record $306 billion.
There’s an average of 100,000 weather-related deaths per year across the globe. Drought, heavy rains, flooding and heat waves account for the most deaths.
3. Weather and climate influences migration patterns
Weather is the day-to-day state of the atmosphere such as wind, moisture and temperature. Whereas climate is the average weather in one place for a long period of time. We are just starting to see the effects on migration patterns from global warming.
For example, polar bears are listed as one of the first animals that will become extinct because of global warming. As sea ice melts for longer duration, polar bears spend more time on land. In turn, they have less time to hunt which is reducing their overall population totals.
It’s not only animals, but people in developing countries are affected by climate change. The World Bank reports that 143 million people may become migrants due to crop failure, rising sea levels and water scarcity.
4. The Coriolis effect influences weather patterns
The Coriolis effect is the deflection of air because of Earth’s rotation. In the northern hemisphere, air deflects to the right. But in the southern hemisphere, air veers to the left. This impacts air circulation, weather patterns and ocean currents.
From 0-30° latitude, Hadley cells carry water vapor from the oceans at the equator. Then, it provides rain until about 30° latitude when the cell loses most of its moisture. So this is why the equator area is damp and moist. But at about 30° latitude, air is much dryer.
Then at 50-60° latitude, it’s a subpolar low within the Ferrel cell. Air moves north at 30° latitude, then comes down at 60° latitude north. Air deflects from the Coriolis effect causing the Westerlies to move east to west.
5. Climate influences vegetation types
Climate plays a large role for vegetation growth across the globe. For example, desert plants are thick, prickly and leafless. They thrive in dry conditions because they can more effectively retain water in their stems.
On the other hand, deciduous trees grow better in moist conditions. They are known to grow leaves in summer, then shed them in the winter. This function serves the purpose of protecting then from the cold and being blown over.
Climate contributes to tree height. For example, trees are taller closer to the equator. While some trees grow higher than 40 meters in height at the equator, trees tend to be much shorter (about 20 meters average) in the polar regions.
6. Jupiter’s everlasting hurricane is larger than Earth
Jupiter spins at an incredible pace. If you stood at the equator on Jupiter, the velocity would be about 28,000 miles per hour. This is about 28 times faster than Earth’s rotation.
Because of its quick rotation and heaping size, it amplifies the Coriolis effect and weather patterns. Jupiter’s weather is so extreme that we can see it from space.
For example, astronomers have observed an everlasting hurricane for 340+ years (ever since the invention of the telescope). We see this cyclone as an enormous red spot on Jupiter because of the Coriolis effect.
7. Earth gets colder than Mars
We know Mars is the fourth planet away from the sun. And both planet’s tilts are similar. While Earth’s inclination to the equator is 23.5°, Mars is about 25.1°.
Because Mars is farther away from the sun compared to Earth, it receives less sunlight. But that doesn’t mean that Earth is always warmer.
On Mars, surface temperatures reach as high as 20 °C at the equator. If you checked the temperature at the poles, it gets as low as −153 °C. So it depends entirely where on Mars you are referring to because 20°C is very cozy weather.
8. Lightning strikes 8.6 million times per day
Lightning is an electrostatic discharge that is supercharged from ionized air. By releasing a massive bolt of electricity, lightning always finds the fastest route to Earth.
Every day, lightning strikes 8.6 million times on average. The world’s lightning hotspot is Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela. If you ever decide to go, there’s an 80% chance that you’ll experience a nocturnal thunderstorm.
Lightning is hotter than the sun when it strikes. And they commonly occur in sync with volcanic eruptions. As the ash from a volcano rises, it interacts with the weather system which brings the thunder and lightning.
9. Rain doesn’t look like a tear drop when it falls
Instead of picturing rain as a teardrop, it more resembles a hamburger bun when it’s falling. Rain starts by water collecting on dust in a cloud.
Because of its weight, it eventually starts to fall as precipitation. At the start, the raindrop is roughly spherical in shape. But when the raindrop falls, it loses its spherical shape. It flattens at the bottom resembling a hamburger bun.
If the raindrop gets too large in size, it can tear apart in two different raindrops. It can also mesh with other raindrops and start the cycle again.
10. Earth is closest to the sun in summer
Even though Earth is closest to the sun in January, it’s the coldest in the northern hemisphere. This means that the temperature on Earth is almost all due to Earth’s tilt.
If you stick a pencil directly through the Earth at the point of rotation, these two points are the North and South poles. Now if you twist your wrist at 23.5°, this is the Earth tilt.
As the Earth revolves around the sun, the hemisphere that’s tilted towards the sun receives most sunlight and is summer. For the hemisphere that’s tilted away from the sun, it receives less sunlight and is winter.