"The Tropical Belt and a Cough..."
The area between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn is known as the tropical belt. Since 1979 scientists have discovered that as the planet warmed the belt has widened. Nature Geoscience magazine reported that the width of the belt expanded 140 to 330 miles. To first define the tropical regions, researchers used upper-air measurements that included ozone concentrations, atmospheric temperature and tropopause height. The increase in width was determined after matching previous data. Some of the factors that could be causing the tropical bulging include global warming, stratospheric ozone depletion and higher sea-surface temperatures. Scientists are not certain if the trend is temporary but suggest that continuing growth of the tropics could compromise precipitation around the world. From the belt to another discovery. Is there anything that produces a blast of wind stronger than a hurricane? Yes, a human cough, which creates a gust approximately 300 miles per hour. No. 2 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane scale is a sneeze at 75 to 100 miles per hour. Imagine taking a nine-pound, 2-by-4 and firing it 34 mph into a window. That simulates the effects of a hurricane on coastal structures. Research indicates that much of the building damage during a hurricane is caused by window and door failure. When hurricane-force winds blow through a home, walls and roofs are forced out, collapsing the structure. Newly designed windows have passed wind damage tests and have been introduced as hurricane resistant windows. They feature a plastic inner-layer between two sheets of glass. You may have seen recent commercials with athletes pounding windows with a ball bat. The building industry has been challenged to design products to further protect windows and doors from flying debris.