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How is the Size of a Tornado Affected by Water Temperature?

Student(s):Tyler Orr and Davey Robinson
Grade Level:Secondary School (grades 9-12, ages 14-18)
GLOBE Educator(s):Leigh Jenkins
Report Type(s):
Protocols:Water Temperature
Date Submitted:05/30/2013
We chose to do our report on how water temperature affects tornado size because of our interest in the formation of tornados and the extreme weather systems that cause these enigmatic events. Our project addresses how the weather systems, specifically the collision of cold, polar winds with those of moist, tropical winds, work. Understanding the formation of tornados is important for predicting catastrophic events that can majorly damage society and its entirety and to the extent in which they will occur. How is the diameter of a tornado affected by water temperature? In our hypothesis, we stated that as the temperature of the water increased, the diameter of the tornado would increase relatively. We created a tornado chamber to produce tornados from dry ice and water to demonstrate the natural weather patterns that create a tornado and how they affect the size of the tornado itself. In order to do this, we used various temperatures of water, such as 0°C, 20°C, 40°C, 60°C, 80°C, and 100°C to react with the dry ice and form the gaseous state of water, or condensation, that would be spiraled into a tornado. We then measured the diameter of these tornados to establish that our hypothesis was indeed correct, for the diameter of the tornado did in fact increase as the temperature of the water increased. In conclusion, the formation of tornados is from the collision between cold and warm air as demonstrated by our experiment, which does indeed affect the magnitude of the tornado.


What an interesting, and timely, research project. How do you think you could connect this to tornadoes that are observed in nature?