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Itís The Waters
Do not be deceived. This is not a photo of our new Why Files bowling ball. ĎTis an infrared photo of water vapor surrounding the Earth. A damp cosmic mess of 50s fun hurtling down an interstellar alley.
Water in the atmosphere is the most important factor in determining the weather. It transmits energy, traps heat, and forms weather patterns. Most of this great atmospheric puddle comesin the form of water vapor. Because it isnít visible to the naked eye, it remains one of the least understood parts of the weather making process.
Thankfully, infrared photography, in this case showing waves some10 times the wavelength of visible light, makes it possible for scientists to study the vapors. This infrared image was produced by the GOES 8 satellite. Then, the NASA team ran their results though "Visualization Remote Sensing Data" (VRSD) software in order to render an attractive imageóbut a likeness that is more attractive than scientifically useful. Still, the photo does show the distribution of water vapor over the Earthís surface. The brighter the area, the more water vapor. The vapors are created by evaporation from the oceans and are convected upwards in tropical areas creating an enhanced greenhouse effect.
Image courtesy of NASA.