Man has always been affected by the wind mainly because its presence and absence drive the weather. "Wind" is what you call the air when it moves across the planet's surface, over the oceans and seas and in and around different terrains. It is sometimes hot or cold, weak or still, violent or strong. It brings moisture from one place to another in the form of rain or snow as well as temperatures, depending if the air is hot or cold. This is why feeling a sudden burst of cold wind in the middle of a sunny day signals an impending rain shower or storm.
The temperature differences between the icy North and South poles and the hot and humid Equator determine how wind circulates the globe. However, today, as the Earth's temperatures continue to increase, climate change is altering wind patterns causing extreme weather events. It is why storm systems and hurricanes are getting more powerful worldwide, and summers are getting hotter and hotter, devastating larger areas and affecting the population in alarming ways.
In Europe, more weather disasters are occurring yearly, mainly due to climate change slowly changing the jet stream or the bands of wind that move across the Earth from west to east. The differences in temperature between the poles and the equator are getting smaller, and the jet stream weakens and slows down as the North Pole continues to get hotter and melt.
Winds accompanying winter storms are getting faster, causing extensive damage to German forests, knocking down and uprooting trees. When followed by extreme summers, the trees become vulnerable to insects attracted by the heat. On the southwestern coast of France, the winds from the Atlantic are so strong now that it pushes sand inland, and they have to be returned manually to the beach to protect from the high waves during winter storms. The rising sea levels threaten people and their homes, and scientists believe that storm winds will get even higher.
Changes in wind patterns also impact animals like albatrosses in Antarctica. They began to grow in numbers, fly faster and gain weight. Scientists discovered in 2012 what caused these changes by analyzing the region's weather data from 1992. Due to global warming, a colder western wind moved further down to the South Pole. Its higher wind speeds made them fly faster, and they could forage in less time, causing weight gain.
Farmers also feel the negative impact of wind system changes. Drought is common, as is heavy flooding. It's getting harder to grow our food, and crops often get destroyed. It has forced some farmers like Jan Wittenberg to rethink their strategy by only growing crops that can handle the freak weather, specifically those with strong roots.
But despite everything, there is still time to act. Vigilance, adaptability and innovation will hopefully help solve the issues brought about by changes in the wind.
Directed by: Torsten Mehltretter