A study by NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA) in the United States, found that the rate at which the earth’s atmosphere traps heat has doubled over a recent period of 14 years, 2005 – 2019.
If this energy imbalance grows further in the coming decades, it could lead to more alarming climate changes, according to scientists.
“The trends we found were quite alarming in a sense,” said Norman Loeb, the chief investigator at NASA’s CERES and the lead researcher of the study.
Scientists gathered the data from two independent measurements, one by the suite of satellite sensors in NASA’s Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES), and the other by Argo, a program that deploys floats to measure the temperature and salinity of global oceans.
Since 90% of the heat that is trapped by the earth goes to the oceans, ocean temperature profiling can provide decisive data about the pattern, and in this case, the conclusions from both data sources come to a common agreement.
“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 artefact,” said Loeb.
According to the study, the increased rate of warming is caused by the increase in greenhouse gases produced by human activity. Additionally, the increase in water vapour in the earth’s atmosphere is also trapping more of the heat coming from the sun preventing it from bouncing back.
Decreasing sea-ice and clouds are also leading to increased absorption of the energy coming from the sun.
Scientists warn that this study is only “a snapshot relative to long-term climate change,” which scientists cannot predict with certainty.