Monday, May 25, 2015

Physics - High Energy Part 3

El Nino - the dam busts

For recorded history, we've had a benign pattern.  That strong equatorial Pacific current goes slamming into the islands (Philippines, and such), jamming up warm water.  Then the Sun bakes this stagnant mass, and it becomes super hot.  After 7 years, it's had enough, and something triggers a water earthquake, perhaps we could call it a waterquake, but that's sounds like something else.

The El Nino is magnificent.  It rolls to the East like a freight train of warm water.  It hits the smooth wall of South America, and spreads North and South, like Manna from Heaven.  It brings water to the deserts of Chile, and soaks California.  It also does weird things to the rest of us.

California can live with this cycle, because it starts a bit early, and lingers with La Nina.  That's enough to totally soak the mountains and fill the reservoirs, and they can wait for the next one.  Like I said, the last one didn't happen.  A slight shift in the equatorial current means this cycle is disrupted.

Earthquakes ride on the other energy, heat from radioactive decay in the deep mantle.  We wouldn't be here without that, so we have to live with it.  The two subjects are somewhat related since the early settlers clung around springs created by faults.  It's only later that California became dependent on a benign El Nino cycle.

Update:  This animation shows what El Nino does.

Physics - High Energy Part 2

The highest energy thing we have going here is the rotation of the Earth, followed by the radiation heat deep in the Mantle.  I don't know how many atomic bombs they are, or how many seconds of the Sun, but it is huge.  Man isn't even the flea on these elephants.  The orbit of the Moon is somewhere there, and that controls the tides.

For the rotation, two things leech off it - ocean currents, and atmospheric flow.  When deep water warms up and rises, it comes with a lag in rotational speed, and thus flows West.  The same for air rising when warmed.  The Earth is busy rushing from West to East.  Cold air and water accelerates when it drops.

You can look at the motions in my previous post.  If we didn't have inconvenient things like continents, our ocean and air currents would just zoom around in flat stripes, and look like Jupiter.



Forget that big alien landing pad.  This our Earth without N-S trending continents.

In the Atlantic we have the equatorial plume smashing into North and South America.  It does what plumes do when hitting a wall, it splits and the momentum goes up North and down South.  Like this.



But the Pacific plume has a tough time.  It goes into an island mess, like this.


This is an absorbing boundary.  The heat accumulates, and the energy also builds as a mound of water.  Sort of like water behind a dam.

-next - The Dam Busters


Physics - High Energy Part 1

I'm going to visit my son in California and I have two things on my mind - earthquakes and drought.  Both are the result of high-energy processes in our good old Earth.

The first is drought.  California has had a very long drought so far.  However, looking at tree rings and such, 100 year droughts are common, and very long droughts have wiped out ancient civilizations.  It is the natural state of California to be a dusty desert, exactly like the southern deserts of Chile, which are lucky to see rain every 7 years.

So what could have fooled Mankind so much as to want to settle there?  Nobody lives in the deserts of Chile.  It's just that during our short historical period, we have had the benefit of a regular El Nino event every 7 years.  The last train didn't come in, and California's lawns have to be painted green.

-to be continued, I have to make some illustrations.