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The scientists observe a change in cloud patterns that might be driven by climate change.
The satellite images that were collected over a period of 26 years showed that clouds are migrating toward the Earth’s poles, and they are also rising higher into the atmosphere.
The change in cloud patterns may indicate that the mid-latitude zones are expanding, which makes the tropics go beyond the 20 to 30 degrees latitude. The scenario was previously predicted by climate change models. However, there was no actual proof until now that the situation might be real and happening during our lifetime.
The fact that the clouds rise high into the atmosphere shows that the barrier is thicker than before, and the thermal radiation is kept on Earth instead of escaping out into space. The phenomenon could explain the change in climate and the continuous increase in temperatures all over the globe.
The scientists discovered that Earth is, therefore, maintaining 98% of the thermal radiation which comes with the sun rays.
The temperature rise also makes the clouds reach high altitudes, as the low layer becomes warm and the top layer becomes cold. The radiation is no longer traveling through the cloud blanket to warm it up.
One of the researchers that contributed to the study explains that this might be one of the clearest proofs that the climate change is altering our planet during our lifetime, and it is not something of the future but a modification that impacts our lives.
While other climate change models have predicted that such a change in the atmosphere might occur, clouds are very difficult to be studied. The present study would be the first one to confirm that the models were correct, and the warming temperatures indeed change our planet.
There are two factors that might have influenced the cloud patterns. One is linked to human activity, and the second one is connected to volcanic eruptions. Scientists have yet to discover which one is the most dangerous, and in what percentage our behavior may help the process to stop.
Clouds are very difficult to study as the satellites are designed to take measurements that would help the short-term weather predictions. Previous analysis of the data had multiple flaws that could have been due to orbit shifts and instrument degradation.
The present study made a special point of trying to correct these inadequacies, and the authors of the research collaborated with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Colorado State University to ensure the quality of their analysis.
The study raises a new question for scientists. As there is now no doubt that climate change is affecting our planet while we speak, the even more severe problem would be to measure the magnitude of these phenomena. The following research will deal with this issue.
Image Source: Pixabay