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Global warming: ‘Half a billion atom bombs per year’

Extra atmospheric energy likely to manifest in intensification of global water cycle

*Editor’s note: Under a content-sharing agreement, Summit Voice will occasionally be offering stories from Climate Progress.

By Stephen Lacey

How much extra energy are we putting in the atmosphere through emission of greenhouse gases? One Australian researcher put it into context: “The radiative forcing of the CO2 we have already put in the atmosphere in the last century is … the equivalent in energy terms to almost half a billion Hiroshima bombs each year.”

With more energy radiating down on the planet rather than back up into space, the planet continues to heat up. As the atmosphere warms, it is able to hold more water vapor — thus strengthening the global hydrological cycle.

With all that extra energy, more water is pulled out of the subtropic regions and moved toward higher-precipitation areas in the subpolar regions, resulting in stronger droughts and stronger storms. Or, as the video above explains, how the wet gets wetter and the dry gets drier.

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