“It’s the excess energy that’s being absorbed by the planet,” said Norman Loeb, NASA scientist and lead author of the study, “so that’s going to mean further increases in temperature and more melting. snow and ice floes, which will cause the level to rise – all the things society really cares about. “
Life on Earth could not exist without the energy of the sun, but the amount of energy sent back into space is significant. It is a delicate balance that determines the climate of the planet.
In addition to warmer global temperatures, the most obvious effect of a positive imbalance, Loeb told CNN “we are going to see changes in atmospheric circulations, including more extreme events like droughts.”
Using satellite data to measure the imbalance, scientists have found that the Earth is gaining more energy than it should and causing even greater warming of the planet, also known as positive energy imbalance.
About 90 percent of the excess energy from this imbalance ends up in the ocean. And warming ocean temperatures are causing acidification, which impacts fish and other marine biodiversity. When the researchers compared satellite measurements with data from a global network of ocean sensors, the results showed a similar trend. The remaining energy, on the other hand, stays in the atmosphere.
The cause of this energy imbalance is certainly due in part to human-made greenhouse gas emissions, the researchers report. It is also affected by some of the positive feedback loops caused by climate change: As the global temperature rises, so does the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere, which further increases the temperature. Melting of the snowpack and pack ice – natural reflectors of solar energy – is also decreasing due to global warming.
“It is a human-induced change that alters the composition of the atmosphere, as well as fluctuations in climate systems,” Loeb said. “The observations are all kind of mixed up. “
Loeb described the period chosen by his team, from 2005 to 2019, as a simple snapshot of what’s to come in terms of climate impacts, adding that more long-term studies and observations need to be done in order to grasp fully the long-term trend.
“I hope the rate at which we see this energy imbalance eases over the next several decades,” Loeb said. “Otherwise, we will see more alarming climate change. “