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Water in our Atmosphere

  1. Aug 11, 2010 #1
    I've read that our atmosphere contains roughly 1% of our global water. I was wondering what, if anything except increased temperatures, could cause the atmosphere to hold more water than that (maybe even considerably more). Any kinda of idea would be great, even ideas that would involve massive changes to our atmosphere.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 12, 2010 #2
    Just bumping my thread, hoping somebody may have any kind of hypothesis.
  4. Aug 12, 2010 #3


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    What you have read is that about 1% of the atmosphere, mass fraction or volume fraction are seldom stated, is water vapor or water adsorbed on aerosols, or water microdroplets, or frozen microdroplets.

    How much more water do you want?
  5. Aug 12, 2010 #4
    Things like airbourne particulates could affect the amount of cloud (and it's worth noting cloud, being composed of liquid droplets, interacts with radiation very differently from water vapour), things like land cover and wind patterns could affect how much the atmosphere is let dry out over regions..
  6. Aug 12, 2010 #5
    I'm talking massive amounts of water. Hypothetically speaking, let's say there was NO water on our surface and it was ALL in our atmosphere. Or let's say our oceans were 50% of what they are now and the other 50% was in the atmosphere, or 75/25, 90/10, etc.

    Is there anything that could result in such a massive body of water being in the atmosphere. Obviously (or I'd assume "obviously") it'd be in a gaseous form (clouds, etc), but instead of the clouds breaking apart into rain because of gravity, the water just stays up there, or any other possible explanation.

    This is, of course, completely hypothetical, so I don't expect any proof or evidence, etc. Maybe even consider it isn't even Earth.

    The idea is for a story I am writing, and I'm trying to make all the aspects of the planet seem as physically possible as I can. Worst-case scenario, I raise the global temperature of the planet considerably to sustain heavier loads of water in the atmosphere.

  7. Aug 12, 2010 #6
    It sounds as though you're grasping to reconcile science with biblical stories (all the water located above the sky and never raining). What the hey, google "greenhouse venus", or else consider the water originating from comets.
  8. Aug 12, 2010 #7
    The greatest rainfalls we get are from thunderstorms, and these are most often caused by a cold front slipping under warmer mass of air. This causes updrafts, very turbulent air and the biggest, tallest clouds (cumulonimbus can be over 30,000ft high). Humidity accumulates locally until the air saturates and it starts raining, most often melting hail.

    [Sci-Fi mode:]

    Perhaps you could imagine the widest, fastest front ever, which would sweep up humidity to unforeseen levels. Such a phenomena might be caused by some cataclysmic event such as, I dunno, a large meteor crashing into Antarctica, sending a wall of icebergs, tsunamis and cold air masses towards the hotter equator from all directions. This would mess up climate quite a bit at least. Perhaps you can convince the sci-fi reader that it's sufficiently messed up to hold more water. Perhaps you can throw in an osmosis effect such as the atmosphere filling up with ionic minerals that tend to attract water (the way salt causes osmosis in liquid water). IMO, if it's sci-fi, you should be able to get away with stuff like that.
  9. Aug 12, 2010 #8
    Kinda funny you mention that, because the idea is similar in nature. The planet holds considerably more water than Earth and whenever it rains, it floods. Unlike Earth, however, where the biblical event happened once, on my planet it happens every time it rains.
  10. Aug 14, 2010 #9
    An impractical guess: what if the Earth's rotation speeded up? I believe that would lower the temperature of evaporation/condensation. If Earth rotated fast enough, I assume all water would be converted into cloud-cover, if not expelled out of orbit completely.
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