Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hot and Muggy, KY

Muggy doesn't even begin to describe the weather this week.  Unbearable, oppressive, and disgusting may be better adjectives.  Granted it it July in Louisville so hot and humid is to be expected, but dew points of 80 degrees and heat indices of 115 plus?  That's outrageous.  And it's all due to corn.

Wait, what?

Corn.  Everyone's favorite summer vegetable.  But how could corn cause the humidity to be so high?  That doesn't make any sense!  Well it does if you know the science.

Right now corn is in the process of developing silk, the stringy stuff that you peel off and always gets stuck between your teeth.  When corn reaches this stage of development, it requires copious amounts of water because the plant has been fertilized and is developing the kernal which is an energy and water intensive process.  So what is happening is that the plant is sucking up ground water and transpiring it into the air through the stomata.  When plants suck up more water than they can use in their physiological processes, the extra water gets released into the atmosphere through the stomata on the leaves.  Kind of like plant sweat.  And since pretty much every state to our immediate west does nothing but grow corn (Iowa, Illinois, Indiana), all that water vapor the corn is releasing into the air is traveling east in our direction, making the air saturated and holding in the heat.  Since Louisville sits in the Ohio River Valley and is surrounded on all sides by knobs and hills, that air has nowhere to go and gets trapped, sitting on top of us and making it miserable for Louisvillians.


Karen Bonsell said...

OK, that is just crazy! I would have never thought, corn?!

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