Shifting cloud patterns observed and recorded via satellite images have revealed two concerning and even foreboding trends. According to a new study, satellite images of the shifting cloud patterns were collected between 1983 and 2009, and they conclusively demonstrate that Earth’s clouds are moving away from the equator toward the poles. In addition, the clouds themselves are becoming taller and reaching higher into the planet’s atmosphere. According to scientists, the finding could be “one of the most profound planetary changes yet to be caused by a warming climate.”
So what does it mean? As KREM reports, the shifting cloud patterns are not just the result of global warming, but they will likely contribute to more extreme and accelerated global warming in the future as well.
The reason for this is that the shifting cloud patterns have resulted in a thicker cloud layer near the poles, which will further trap radiation rather than allowing it to escape through the atmosphere and back out into space. Not only that, but both of the shifting cloud pattern changes observed are also expected to contribute to the problem of solar radiation being trapped within the Earth’s atmosphere rather than being able to escape it.
The shifting cloud patterns are doing more than just trapping solar heat radiation on Earth. Because they are moving away from the equator and toward the planet’s poles, Earth’s mid-latitude dry zones are expanding, which could be disastrous for global food production.
The shifting cloud patterns study was originally published in Nature, and participating researchers have expressed a bit of shock and awe that they were actually able to observe the profound (and potentially catastrophic) impacts of climate change.
“I guess what was surprising is that a lot of times we think of climate change as something that’s going to occur in the future. This is happening right now. It’s happened during my lifetime—it was a bit startling.”
Continued evidence of expanding Hadley Cells in cloud data. This is more important than whatever is trending. https://t.co/xHFfqtAp2p— Anthony Masiello (@antmasiello) July 12, 2016
Prior to the shifting cloud patterns study, many models dealing with climate change expectations had predicted that something of the kind either was occurring or would be in the future. However, according to scientists, “clouds are notoriously difficult to study.”
One big question that is still hanging over the head of the shifting cloud pattern study is how much of the pattern shift humanity is responsible for and how much is naturally occurring. During the period that satellite imagery was recorded and studied, Earth suffered two fairly significant volcanic eruptions. It is unclear how much the eruptions may have contributed to the shifting cloud patterns. While researchers who worked on the shifting cloud pattern study agree that it is indicative of climate change, they don’t agree that the climate change involved is entirely attributable to human industry and other activities.
“This is a very good attempt to try and get a handle on this, but I don’t think it’s the final answer.”
Christian Science Monitor reports that the shifting cloud pattern study was a difficult one to conduct, and was only able to be completed because of the development of more sensitive monitoring equipment and satellites. The study was conducted by Dr. Joel Norris in conjunction with a team of researchers from UC Riverside, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Colorado State University. According to Norris, the seemingly minuscule differences in cloud patterns have had a profound impact on Earth’s climate and temperature.
“The reason the earth is warming up due to greenhouse gases is just a 0.2 percent difference between what comes in and what goes out in terms of solar radiation coming in and thermal radiation going out.”
While scientists and researchers don’t necessarily agree on the root cause of the climate change and global warming that they are observing, they do agree on one thing: the newly observed shifting cloud pattern is going to make global climate change worse, not better.
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