Published On: Fri, Jun 18th, 2021

NASA: Earth Is Trapping “Unprecedented” Heat, Warming Faster

Global warming is very real.

Yes the Earth is getting hotter. Call it climate change or global warming, it makes no difference. A new study from NASA and The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) was released which shows that Earth’s energy imbalance has doubled. A positive energy imbalance means the Earth system is gaining energy, causing the planet to heat up. Now, NOAA and NASA researchers have found that Earth’s energy imbalance approximately doubled during the 14-year period from 2005 to 2019.

Increases in emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane due to human activity trap heat in the atmosphere, capturing outgoing radiation that would otherwise escape into space. The warming drives other changes, such as snow and ice melt, and increased water vapor and cloud changes that can further enhance the warming. Earth’s energy imbalance is the net effect of all these factors.

“The two very independent ways of looking at changes in Earth’s energy imbalance are in really, really good agreement, and they’re both showing this very large trend, which gives us a lot of confidence that what we’re seeing is a real phenomenon and not just an instrumental artifact, ” said Norman Loeb, lead author for the study and principal investigator for CERES at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.” The trends we found were quite alarming in a sense.”

The study finds that the doubling of the imbalance is partially the result an increase in greenhouse gases due to human activity, also known as anthropogenic forcing, along with increases in water vapor are trapping more outgoing longwave radiation, further contributing to Earth’s energy imbalance. Additionally, the related decrease in clouds and sea ice lead to more absorption of solar energy.

The researchers also found that a flip of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) from a cool phase to a warm phase likely played a major role in the intensification of the energy imbalance. The PDO is a pattern of Pacific climate variability. Its fingerprint includes a massive wedge of water in the eastern Pacific that goes through cool and warm phases. This naturally occurring internal variability in the Earth system can have far-reaching effects on weather and climate. An intensely warm PDO phase that began around 2014 and continued until 2020 caused a widespread reduction in cloud coverage over the ocean and a corresponding increase in the absorption of solar radiation.

Gregory Johnson, a physical oceanographer with NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, Washington, said that combining the Argo and CERES data helped reveal the variations and trends of Earth’s energy imbalance with increasing accuracy. ‘”Observing the magnitude and variations of this energy imbalance are vital to understanding Earth’s changing climate,” said Johnson, a co-author on the study.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa), reported that May had the sixth highest average temperatures the month has ever seen.

The report comes out just as authorities in Arizona and Nevada are preparing for record breaking high temperatures this summer. According to the New York Times, a heat wave this week across the western United States will test electrical grids stressed by air-conditioning and endanger those unable to find relief.

This is cause for concern in any ways. There has already been a great deal of drought in theses area and forest fires come at times like these. But there is also the human toll as many people have died over the years from heatstroke. “If people don’t have proper air-conditioning and can’t cool off, there’s not that respite,” said Julie Malingowski, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

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