Water is a fundamental element for life on Earth and on our blue planet it is subject to physical transformation processes, known as hydrological cycle, which convert water reserves from liquid to gaseous state. But exactly how much water does the Earth’s atmosphere contain?
The answer to this question could leave the most unhindered, as, in the form of atmospheric steam there are billions of liters of water in the air around us.
It is now widely known that the development of life on our planet is dependent on the abundant reserves of liquid water, which cover 71% of the earth’s surface. Yet the element of life does not only present itself in the liquid state, but it is floating around us, in the atmosphere. According to a recent study, more water is present in Jupiter’s atmosphere than expected.
According to the United States Geological Survey, the volume of land water is estimated at 1.4 billion cubic kilometers. This immense quantity is certainly not inert but undergoes continuous state transformations, which, from the evaporation of the water basins, lead to the formation of clouds and, finally, lead to precipitation. During the evaporation process, water remains in the atmosphere for about 10 days, saturated with water vapour.
Frédéric Fabry, director of J. Stewart Marshall Radar Observatory and professor at McGill University in Canada, said “On average, there is about the equivalent of 30 mm of rain in the form of steam available to fall
The scientists claim that the atmosphere is home to some 143.9 million billion litres of water and, if it were to fall at the same time, it would be sufficient to increase the ocean level by almost four centimetres worldwide.
This increase would have devastating consequences globally, especially for sea-based cities, the most vulnerable to coastal flooding. But that’s not all. A 2017 study appeared in Scientific Reports found that if ocean levels were to rise from 5 to 10 cm, there would be a double frequency of flooding in various locations around the world.
Fortunately, as Fabry suggests, “The amount of water in the atmosphere is controlled by the balance between the flow entering the atmosphere and the flow leaving it” and, as regards the discrepancies in the evaporation processes of the different global areas, continues “The flow in the atmosphere is Water evaporation requires a lot of energy and that energy comes from the heat of the surface. Hot oceans are the places where evaporation is greatest and Arctic land areas are where it is minimal.”
The hydrological dynamics of atmospheric water can be affected by today’s climate change. The increase in temperatures will affect the amount of steam released into the atmosphere in the near future, causing serious climate and ecological problems.
A greater amount of water vapor, being an effective greenhouse gas, will result in an increase in temperatures and extreme conditions caused by today’s disruption, for which the human being must assume his responsibility. In fact, 99% of studies say that climate change is caused by man.