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Climate and the Water Cycle
Alex Steffen, 23 May 05

We know that climate change is impacting nearly every aspect of human civilization, in ways large and small, but here's a window on efforts to understand one primary vector of change, the water cycle:

Say "climate change" and people tend to think global warming. But we also should think about water, specifically, the cycle of precipitation, evaporation, and river flow that is a key climate component. ...

In the Arabian Sea, for example, fishermen now enjoy richer fishing thanks to declining snow cover in Southeast Asia and the Himalayas. The links work this way: Less snow means more summer heating of the land, intensifying air pressure differences between land and sea, which in turn drive the seasonal monsoon winds. Stronger winds stir the Arabian Sea more vigorously, bringing more nutrients into its higher, sunlit levels. Microscopic plants and animals (fish food) flourish. Fisheries burgeon. ...Joaquim Goes at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in West Boothbay Harbor, Maine, and several colleagues studied satellite images of the western Arabian Sea and found sea-color changes due to seasonal blooms of phytoplankton (microscopic plants). In fact, the blooms have increased more than 350 percent in seven years, the research team reported in Science last month.

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