DATE: June 17, 2021
SNIP: The Earth is trapping nearly twice as much heat as it did in 2005, according to new research, described as an “unprecedented” increase amid the climate crisis.
Scientists from Nasa, the US space agency, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa), reported in a new study that Earth’s “energy imbalance approximately doubled” from 2005 to 2019. The increase was described as “alarming”.
“Energy imbalance” refers to the difference between how much of the Sun’s “radiative energy” is absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere and surface, compared to how much “thermal infrared radiation” bounces back into space.
“A positive energy imbalance means the Earth system is gaining energy, causing the planet to heat up,” Nasa said in a statement about this study.
Upticks in greenhouse gas emissions keep heat in Earth’s atmosphere, trapping radiation that would otherwise move into space. This warming spurs other changes, including ice and snow melt. An increase in water vapor, and changes to clouds, could further exacerbate this warming, Nasa said.
The study found that this doubling is the result, in part, by an increase in greenhouse gases and water vapor, as well as decreases in clouds and ice.
[T]his research provides only a glimpse in relation to longterm climate change, and, according to Nasa, that “it’s not possible to predict with any certainty what the coming decades might look like for the balance of Earth’s energy budget”.
The study did determine that unless the rate of heat uptake slows, greater shifts in climate should be expected.