Although organisms obey the same physical laws as inanimate objects the evolutionary implications of these laws are often neglected. Physical factors influence the fitness value of traits and play an important role in the course of evolution. These are the areas of investigation that interest us.
One of the challenges in studying tornadoes is being in the right place at the right time. In that regard, storm chaser Brandon Clement hit the jackpot earlier this week when he captured this footage of a tornado near Sulphur, Oklahoma from his drone. He was able to follow the twister for several minutes until it apparently dissipated.
Scientists are still uncertain exactly how tornadoes form, but they’ve learned to recognize the key ingredients. A strong variation of wind speed with altitude can create a horizontally-oriented vortex, which a localized updraft of warm, moist air can lift and rotate to vertical, birthing a tornado. These storms most commonly occur in the central U.S. and Canada during springtime, and researchers are actively pursing new ways to predict and track tornadoes, including microphone arrays capable of locating them before they fully form. (Image and video credit: B. Clement; via Earther)