What happened 15 years ago? It was 2006 and according to the Chinese zodiac, it was the year of the dog. NASA launched the New Horizons probe and Germany hosted the 18th edition of the FIFA World Cup. Since then, a lot has happened, including the probe’s arrival at Pluto and three other World Cups. And a lot of things went wrong, too. Within 15 years, between 2005 and 2020, the amount of solar radiation captured at the Earth’s surface and in the oceans doubled.
Our planet absorbs an “unprecedented” amount of the sun’s heat. New research shows that the Earth is collapsing. The study, published in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters by NASA and scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is a stark sign.
The Earth is rapidly moving beyond the boundaries that have allowed civilizations to flourish. Basically, it’s as if the planet has a “budget”. It absorbs a certain amount of energy from the sun and returns an equal and opposite amount of it back into space. But the scale is more and more unbalanced.
Scientists have studied this energy imbalance. Currently, it is 0.3%, which means that the planet absorbs more energy than it sends into space. This residual energy has to do something. The end result is more heat. You can definitely see that everyday life is much hotter than it was 15 years ago.
To collect the data, the researchers looked for information observed by satellites looking at the upper part of the atmosphere to see what kind of energy was coming and going. They also used a network of independent buoys that collect data in the top 2,000 meters of the ocean, where 90% of the heat is stored.
Both data sets showed that the Earth had nearly doubled the amount of this heat received since 2005. The researchers said the negative trend was confirmed, according to the data source’s agreement.
According to oceanographer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Pacific Ocean Laboratory and study co-author Gregory Johnson, the heat is equivalent to dropping four atomic bombs every second. The main causes are changes in cloud cover and surface reflection.
Clouds are affected by climate change as well as by natural phenomena such as El Niño and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. On the other hand, rising temperatures are altering the Earth’s reflection, particularly due to the melting of Arctic sea ice. Thus, the darker ocean water absorbs more heat. Carbon dioxide and other forms of human pollution also contribute to the imbalance.
“Things that matter most to people, such as the increase in average Earth’s surface temperature, sea level rise, more extreme weather conditions, etc., are all symptoms of a positive energy imbalance. This in turn is the result of an increase in greenhouse gases,” said Norman Loeb, The researcher at NASA’s Langley Research Center, who led the study, “like carbon dioxide and methane.”
passing by: Gizmodo
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