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Why Spring and Autumn Are Slowly Vanishing

Why spring and autumn are slowly disappearing from our yearly calendar has nothing to do with global warming, and everything to do with the role of water. Sandy's impact upon Manhattan and beyond reveal that a more in depth understanding on the relationship between water and its functions on earth is called for.

Is it surprising to see snow in October?

The current mega storm to reach the eastern seaboard of the United States has brought about a wide array of weather from three-foot snow falls in Virginia to severe winds, rain and flooding in New York. The consensus, whether in the media outlets, blockbuster films or common knowledge, is that this is mostly the result of climate change caused by CO2 emissions. Yet very little of this debate looks at the role of water and its functions on earth for maintaining a stable climate and balanced eco-cycle.

To understand this, consider a physical experiment in which we have two pots filled with soil: The first pot is full of dry soil whereas the second pot is full of wet soil. Place the two pots on a heated stove and let us observe their temperature. The pot with dry soil will heat overheat very quickly. The second pot will begin to overheat only once all the water has evaporated from it. Additionally, during the time that it takes to heat up the pot with the wet soil into a dried out state, the first pot can exceed temperatures over 200 degrees Celsius.

Within the experiment, it can be further concluded that if by the time the first pot reaches 100 degrees Celsius and both pots are removed from the stove, the second pot will not yet have all its water evaporated and the pot and its contents would be below a temperature of 100 degrees. If we further observe the cooling period, we will notice that the first pot will cool much quicker than the second pot. From this basic experiment we can conclude that moist soil takes a much longer time to heat and cool down while the opposite is true for dry soil, it take much less time to heat up and cool down. Simply put, water is an excellent thermo-regulator.

A similar principle applies to climate. A dried out landscape throughout a hot summer season quickly cools as the sun makes its way to the southern hemisphere during the fall. If water was more abundant in the northern hemisphere, the cooling of the landscape would not be so rapid during the sun's zenith in the southern hemisphere, and we would experience weather more in tune with autumn. Similarly, the weather would behave in similar fashion during spring time. This is a logical explanation of why spring and autumn are slowly disappearing from our yearly calendar. It has nothing to do with global warming.

We know that this year, Europe has experienced drought that will go down in history as one of the worst. Its logical that our continent is cooling much faster this year as the sun's glare slowly tilted towards the southern hemisphere, which induced a much quicker cooling period for the north and thus the faster advance of winter then we have been used to in the past.

From analysis, we know that an average 250 million m3 of water is lost every year, water which previously absorbed into the landscape and, with evaporation, slowed the process of cooling and heating of the earth. Basically, water was much more abundant in the small water cycle. In the last 50 years, more than 10 billion m3 of water has been lost from the landscape and consequently the small water cycle. Where was this water lost? This water has been lost to the oceans. This is Slovakia's contribution to the rising ocean level, because evaporation from the ocean is very slow that lost water is not fully retrieved.

If Slovakia is considered to be within the average in terms of desertification in Europe, then on the continent as a whole, roughly 1000 billion m3 of water has disappeared from Europe in the last 50 years. This is Europe's contribution to the rising ocean levels -- plus it also results in the disappearance of spring and autumn from the seasonal cycles while not to mention other serious effects.

We can well imagine how much energy is consumed from the transformation of such a vast amount of water from its liquid state to its vapour state. The number is large: it accounts for more than 200 year production of all European electrical plants. The sun is responsible for this transformation, which is the engine for the change of water between the earth and the sky. In other words, it maintains the planet's climate regime that is bearable for all forms of life. It seems that the relationship between water and energy is yet to be grasped.

Since humankind seems to have a difficulty understanding the law of physics in practical terms, even if in theory it all seems to fit our understanding of the world, we continue to dehydrate our landscape. One of its effects is the dramatic changes to the temperature regime in the northern hemisphere where the peak of winter is moving from February to the winter solstice, and the peak of summer is slowly moving towards the summer solstice, while both spring and autumn are slowly disappearing.

In the end, our future generations will only know winter and summer with very little in between the transitions. This is no longer just an environmental phenomenon of our daily lives; the current situation is fast becoming an existential phenomenon. To get a clear picture just take a look at the latest news from New York where the recent storm has had an impact upon the lives of millions of people. The recent events in Manhattan and beyond reveal that a more in depth understanding on the relationship between water and its functions on earth is called for.

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