Earth from Space - Nova
How can sandstorms in the Sahara Dessert Transform the Amazon rainforest over 5000 miles away? In the fridged ocean under Antartica, how can a fast undersea waterfall 500 times bigger than Niagra falls, create a feeding frenzy near the equator? And how can warm water streaming past the coast of Africa trigger a weather catastrophe half a world away in the Southern United States? Thanks to a network of satellites orbiting high above the earth, ever watchful their sensors extend far beyond what our eyes can see. What are these hidden forces that rule our world, how are the oceans, the continents, the atmosphere and even the sun-bound together, and how do they affect all living things? We now understand how earth, fire, wind, and water joined together to create the dynamic environments that shape life in all its forms. With astonishing images created from a wealth of new information from satellites, This is how we see Earth from Space.
Orbiting over our heads are 120 satellites keeping watch from space, each one of these earth observing satellites reveals a different piece of the puzzle, not only do they show us what is visible from space but also what is not visible to the human eye, we now have visuals that show in great detail how sunlight, moisture, land, and atmosphere interact in unexpected ways.
The first piece of the puzzle is understanding the massive influence the sun, from 93 million miles away, has on our planet. Everything that you can see that lives, breathes and moves on the earth is pushed by the sun. Polar-orbiting satellite Some provide the view of the impact the sun has by circling the planet 14 times a day. This satellite can see in infrared(Hot & Cold).it can see how at the poles, the sun hits at an oblique angle, and what little light there is, gets reflected back by the ice and clouds, these are the primary reasons why the poles stay cold. At the Equator, the planet receives more direct sunlight and the lack of ice means that less of the suns energy is reflected back into space, so the suns concentrated energy fuels a heat engine that can trigger weather events around the world, (Much like hurricanes such as Maria and Harvey), the best place to see where the suns impact is in the Atlantic, just North of the equator and west of Africa, the coastal waters of Cape Verde islands. Basically, sunlight and water can result in evaporation, resulting in clouds.The warm waters of Cape Verde assist in creating massive clouds full of water, with that the heat energy that the water vapor carries and the earth rotation can develop storms and even hurricanes. This is typically why we don’t get storms in winter, heat is necessary.
In India, at the end of July, the warm water vapor is drawn from over the ocean by the difference between temperatures between land and sea. Rising to high altitude the vapor cools over the land and condenses back to water(Rain). This result is called the Asian Monsoon. The Monsoon eventually moves to the east, reaching China to flood the rice paddies. This process provides food for 3 billion people, almost half the worlds population. Meanwhile on the other side of the world in South America, westbound winds drive water vapour across the high peaks of the Andies, the altitude strips the air of moisture, which falls as snow on the mountains, because the wind system is going west and as a result of no more moisture in the air, the west of the Andies is the Arid Atacama desert in central Chile. The same July, in the eastern United States, hot moist air surges North straight from the Gulf of Mexico, Memphis to New York swelter in the summer heat. Essentially the global circulation effects our daily weather.
This vast cycle of sunlight, water, and land is just one patter among many on this planet. A cycle with even GREATER consequences for the long-term climate involves extreme cold. Let's turn the earth upside down and look at the Antarctic a whole. Antarctic remains the earth last great wilderness, a vast frozen continent, plunged into darkness for almost 6 months of each year. Antartica ice plays a massive role in maintaining the earth climate, sustaining life in even lush warm jungles, 1000s of miles away, basically Antartica is the Earths critical air conditioner. When the warm moist air from the tropics meets the cold air over the South Pole, results in a massive storm system, and just like a hurricane, the wind rotates as a result of the spinning of the earth, if you can visualise the big ‘circle’ of ice at the bottom of the earth with winds rotating in a clockwise direction around the ice, you can picture this massive hurricane-like wind system called the Polar Jet. And with the polar jet comes what you might have heard of before, the ‘“Screaming 60s”. This is the area in the Southern Ocean south of 60-degrees latitude to the coast of Antartica, noted for EXCEPTIONALLY strong winds, huge seas, and massive icebergs every day of the year, making it the most dangerous seas on the planet. The cold winds and waters are so relentless it creates a barrier all the way around Antartica, keeping any warm air out, this is also why it stays cold all year round.
If it weren't for these simple but massive processes, life, as we know it, would be completely different and we would definitely not be here as the human species.