Saturday, 04 December 2021

Research by NASA on Earth energy imbalance; Doubled in just 14 years

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Research lead by NASA on Earth energy imbalance has uncovered that the amount of heat trapped by Earth's land, ocean, and atmosphere has doubled over only 14 years thereby increasing Earth's energy imbalance.

Scientists at NOAA (NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) found out that Earth's energy imbalance doubled during the 14 years from 2005 to 2019.

Scientists compared data from two independent measurements to reach this conclusion. NASA's CERES (Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System) and Argo, a global array of ocean float called enabled an accurate estimate of the heating up of the world's oceans.

Norman Loeb, author and principal investigator for NASA's CERES, said,

"The two very independent ways of looking at changes in Earth's energy imbalance are in really, really good agreement, and they're both showing this huge trend. So it gives us a lot of belief that what we're seeing is a real phenomenon and not just an instrumental artifact."

In a study published in the Geophysical Research Letters journal, he said,

"The trends we found were quite alarming in a sense."

An increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), and other greenhouse gas emissions due to human activities trap heat in the atmosphere, arresting outgoing radiation, which should ideally escape into space. 

Read More: Rare Shining Clouds on Mars captured by NASA's Curiosity Rover

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Snow melting increased water vapor, and cloud changes further enhance the warming. The findings showed,

"Earth's energy imbalance is the net effect of all these factors," 

The research by NASA on Earth energy imbalance found that the doubling of the imbalance partially results from increased greenhouse gases due to anthropogenic forcing, along with increases in water vapor, trapping more outgoing longwave radiation, further contributing to Earth's energy imbalance.

Furthermore, the related decrease in clouds and sea ice leads to more absorption of solar energy.

Loeb warned,

"It's likely a mix of anthropogenic forcing and internal variability, and over this period, they're both causing warming, which leads to a fairly large change in Earth's energy imbalance. The magnitude of the increase is unprecedented,"

Unless the rate of heat uptake dwindles, more significant changes in climate that are already occurring should be expected.

Gregory Johnson, a physical oceanographer at NOAA, said,

"Observing the magnitude and variations of this energy imbalance are vital to understanding Earth's changing climate."