By Michael Allaby
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Additional resources for Hurricanes (Facts on File Dangerous Weather Series)
At other times the Conveyor was suppressed by the sudden release of large numbers of huge icebergs for reasons scientists are at present unable to explain. Being less dense, the freshwater floated above the salt water like a huge raft and prevented dense water from sinking to form the NADW. Some scientists fear that global warming 31 32 Hurricanes 60 N 30° N equator 30° S 60° S The Great Conveyor. This system of currents carries warm water away from the equator and cold water toward it. might increase the amount of rain and snow falling over high latitudes and that this might suppress the formation of the NADW, disrupting the Conveyor and causing a sharp cooling in the climate of northwestern Europe.
As it sinks into denser air, it contracts. now denser and heavier than the air immediately above it. It has lost its positive buoyancy and now possesses neutral buoyancy. If the air is heated very strongly by its contact with the surface and if the rising air is constantly replenished by more air being warmed beneath it, it may rise to a very great height. In such a case, adiabatic cooling can reduce its temperature to around –74°F (–59°C) at an altitude of about 7 42 Hurricanes miles (11 km). Solar heating is strongest in the Tropics, and there warmed air rises to about 11 miles (18 km), where the temperature is around –112°F (–80°C).
This uses energy, so as the air expands its molecules lose energy. Because they have less energy they move more slowly. When a moving molecule strikes something, some of its energy of motion (kinetic energy) is transferred to whatever it strikes and part of that energy is converted into heat. This raises the temperature of the struck object by an amount related to the number of molecules striking it and their speed. In expanding air, the molecules are moving farther apart, so a smaller number of them strike an object each second.