Season 1 (6) Spinning the Wind – Birth of Clouds

Haruka and her friends continue their adventures on the Izu Peninsula. The ocean winds they observe are not just transporters of air, they are like threads that weave together climate patterns on Earth. Combining Hazuki’s botanical knowledge and Asahi’s physics expertise, they begin to explore the Earth’s natural dynamism in cloud formation.

From a physics perspective, Asahi explains how the wind is a means of dispersing the Earth’s energy. “The Coriolis force due to the Earth’s rotation affects the direction of the winds, which, combined with the configuration of the oceans and continents, creates large-scale wind patterns,” he explains. As a thermodynamic process caused by the sun’s heat unevenly warming the Earth’s surface, it details how wind transports energy in the atmosphere and brings balance to the environment.

From the chemical side, Haruka sheds light on the role of condensation nuclei in cloud formation. “To form clouds, you need tiny particles, or condensation nuclei, that water vapor condenses on,” she points out. We will delve into how sea salt, dust, and even biological particles are essential to cloud formation, and how they physically capture water vapor in the atmosphere to form clouds.

Adding a biological perspective, Hazuki opens up a discussion on the impact of plant transpiration on atmospheric water vapor. Observe how coastal plant communities help increase atmospheric humidity and, as a result, create clouds. “Transpiration is the process by which plants absorb water and evaporate it from their leaves. This is extremely important for the Earth’s water cycle,” says Hazuki.

On the geological side, Haruka and colleagues will consider how coastline topography affects wind and cloud patterns. We discover that the curves of mountain ranges and coastlines change the flow of winds, causing updrafts and downdrafts in specific regions, and have a significant impact on cloud density and dispersion.

With a meteorological perspective, Asahi integrates how all these factors combine to form local weather patterns. Citing data such as changes in atmospheric pressure, temperature gradations, and humidity, he explains the series of processes that combine to form clouds and eventually fall as rain.

“My experience here teaches me that the weather we see every day is actually the result of a complex interplay of various elements on the earth,” Haruka says with emotion. Their discussions go beyond simply sharing knowledge; they share a mutual respect for nature and its depth.

On this day, Haruka and her friends can look at a single cloud and recall the complex scientific, biological, and geographical processes behind it. They realized that the natural world is one big living entity, and that they exist as a part of it.

Asahi continues to explain enthusiastically. “Clouds are not just collections of water vapor, they are actually important regulators of the Earth’s climate system. Clouds help reduce surface warming, while heavy rain clouds can cause problems such as flooding and landslides. They can also cause natural disasters. Furthermore, by reflecting radiation from the sun, clouds maintain the balance of energy in the Earth’s radiative forcing.”

He also addresses the influence of clouds as a complicating factor in climate modeling and weather forecasting. “Climate scientists are constantly working to understand exactly how clouds affect climate change. Clouds interact with greenhouse gases and influence the extent of global warming. Because it affects you.”

Meanwhile, Hazuki explores the relationship between plants and clouds. “Plants take CO2 from the atmosphere and produce oxygen and sugars. This process also influences cloud formation. Volatile organic compounds emitted by plants react in the atmosphere and form condensation formations. In other words, the plant kingdom and the existence of clouds are interconnected.”

And Haruka reflects the interaction between humans and nature. “Our daily activities influence clouds, which in turn feed back into our lives. For example, industrial emissions and agricultural activities cause air pollution, which can change the properties of clouds. We need to think seriously about how we coexist with the natural world.”

At night under the stars, they continue their dialogue with the natural world and decipher the messages carried by the clouds. The light from the stars illuminates the clouds, reminding them of the connection between space and Earth. “The light coming from the stars also interacts with the Earth’s atmosphere to create the sights we see,” Haruka says with excitement.

Haruka’s discussion is more than just an academic conversation. They ponder deeply about how to apply the laws of nature to their future lives and pursue sustainable ways of living. They went to sleep with new knowledge imprinted in their minds for tomorrow’s activities, hoping for further lessons from nature.

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