Uncommon Sense

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Missing component found in the evaporation process, making water vapor’s role even more uncertain in climate models

Watts Up With That?

From the INSTITUTE OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY OF THE POLISH ACADEMY OF SCIENCES

Evaporation for review — and with it global warming

Recoil of evaporating molecules changes the pressure at the surface of the liquid. CREDIT: IPC PAS, Grzegorz Krzyzewski Recoil of evaporating molecules changes the pressure at the surface of the liquid. CREDIT: IPC PAS, Grzegorz Krzyzewski

The process of evaporation, one of the most widespread on our planet, takes place differently than we once thought – this has been shown by new computer simulations carried out at the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. The discovery has far-reaching consequences for, among others, current global climate models, where a key role is played by evaporation of the oceans.

They all evaporate: oceans and seas, microdroplets of fuel in engines and the sweat on our own skin. For every one of us evaporation is of paramount importance: it shapes the climate of the planet, it affects the cost of car travel, and is one…

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