Climate Change : Clouds May Be Contributing to Rising Temperatures

You’ve been hearing a lot about climate change and the ghastly rise in Earth’s temperature, lately. Well, turns out, that’s not the whole story! A recent study published in Science magazine says that the rise in Earth’s temperature may actually be worse than we thought due to the previously unknown impact of clouds.

Researchers from Yale University and the California laboratory have been studying global models that have monitored and predicted Earth’s temperature rise. According to them, these models are incorrect as they only considered the effect of human activity and underestimated the impact of clouds. The new research focuses on values of Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity (ECS), as the rise in Earth’s temperature depends on how this factor fluctuates. This factor is related to the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, and has been thought to be between 2 C and 4.6 C.

However, by using NASA’s data about the chemical composition of clouds, the researchers found what is known as the ice-water ratio found in clouds. To better understand this ratio, consider this. In warmer climates, the ratio of ice-water in mixed-phase clouds would be much less than scientists have previously assumed; a higher ice-water ratio would be cause a cooling effect and hence reduce temperatures. Due to this finding, the researchers have discovered that the chemical composition of clouds is changing, and this affects previous predictions of temperature rise. After accounting for the ice-water ratio, the researchers placed the ECS between 5 C and 5.3 C, which implies the effects of climate change will be even more drastic than previously thought.