Earth Traps More Heat Now; Situation Alarming 

Planet Earth is now trapping more heat than it netted in 2005, according to a new research from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration ( NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The research that came out last week pointed out that the planets’ “energy imbalance approximately doubled” from 2005 to 2019, meaning it garnered twice as much heat as it did 2005. They also described the findings as alarming at the rate by which the Earth was amassing so much heat.

The researchers noted that climate on Earth depended on a delicate balance between how much of the Sun’s radiative energy is absorbed in the atmosphere and at the surface and how much thermal infrared radiation emits to space. An energy imbalance causes the Planet to heat up more, the scientists pointed out.


The Scientists concluded the energy findings by analysing data from two independent measurements. NASA’s Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) suite of satellite sensors measure the amount of energy that enters and leaves Earth’s system. A global array of ocean floats named Argo helps to accurately estimate the rate at which the world’s oceans are heating up. About 90 percent of the excess energy from an energy imbalance ends up in the ocean and the overall trends of incoming and outgoing radiation should broadly agree with changes in ocean heat content, the scientists said.

Lead author of the study Norman Loeb (principal investigator for CERES at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia) noted that the two independent ways of looking at energy imbalance of the earth was a real phenomenon and not just an instrumental artefact.


The increases in emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane trap heat in the atmosphere. This leads to the capture of outgoing radiation that would otherwise escape into space. This warming also effects other changes such as increased water vapour, snow and ice melt, and cloud changes, which all could trigger enhance warming, the researchers said. They confirmed that the energy imbalance was the net effect of all these factors.

The study showed that water vapour trapped more outgoing long-wave radiation. The related decrease in clouds and sea ice led to more absorption of solar energy. Another finding is the flip of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) from a cool phase to a warm phase that could have also led to intensifying energy imbalance. The researchers note that the naturally occurring internal variability could have far-reaching effects on weather and climate.

Loeb said that the energy imbalance was a mix of anthropogenic forcing and internal variability. “These two are both causing warming, which leads to a fairly large change in Earth’s energy imbalance. The magnitude of the increase is unprecedented,” the scientist said.


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