GLOBAL CHANGE: SCU researcher Dr Douglas Sheil has developed a new theory about forests and their effect on wind.
GLOBAL CHANGE: SCU researcher Dr Douglas Sheil has developed a new theory about forests and their effect on wind. Marc Stapelberg

Radical weather theory formed by SCU expert

A NEW theory of what determines global wind is being taken seriously enough by climate scientists to warrant publication in a top atmospheric science journal.

The radical hypothesis, developed by researcher and Professor of Forest Ecology and Conservation at Southern Cross University, Dr Douglas Sheil, with a group of international scientists, claims that land cover, particularly the presence or absence of forests, directs weather patterns.

"Radically novel theories concerning what determine global weather patterns are rare, and fewer still are taken seriously," Dr Sheil said.

His theory is outlined in the paper 'Where do winds come from? A new theory on how water vapour condensation influences atmospheric pressure and dynamics', published in the Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics journal.

"Our study concluded that condensation and evaporation - and not temperature differences as traditionally believed - are the major drivers of atmospheric dynamics," Dr Sheil said.

"Climate scientists generally believe that they already understand the main principles determining how the world's climate works. However, if our hypothesis is true then the way winds are driven and the way rain falls has been misunderstood.

"What our theory suggests is that forests are the heart of the earth, driving atmospheric pressure, pumping wind and moving rain."

Dr Sheil said the theory could generate fresh calls for forest conservation.

"We need to acknowledge the role of forests in determining wind and rainfall is greater than previously understood," he said.

"Our theory seems incredible on first impressions. But so far no-one has shown why this theory is wrong, and we are already seeing a few converts.

"The important thing now is that these ideas get the full scientific scrutiny and evaluation that they require. Getting this theory into a top journal like Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics is key.

"Unless someone can show where we have made an error I believe these ideas have profound importance for the future."

"In science, being radical isn't a reason why it's wrong."



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