A JOINT study conducted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), both agencies of the United States, found that the Earth’s energy imbalance approximately doubled during the 14-year period from 2005 to 2019. In simple language, it means that the Earth is trapping twice as much heat from the Sun now than it did in the early 2000s.
The study finds that the doubling of the heat imbalance is cause by both man-made and natural causes. Human contributions include increasing use of fossil fuels for power plants and motor vehicles and deforestation. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. They are cut down to make way for development and agriculture.
The natural cause is the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), a pattern of Pacific climate variability. 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. Clouds reflect sunlight and cool the Earth. You can clearly notice that when clouds provide shade from the hot afternoon Sun.
When the sun’s heat reaches the Earth, some of it is absorbed and the rest bounces back into space. However, because of the thick layer of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that acts like a blanket, a big percentage of that heat is unable to escape, thus, making the surface of the Earth hotter. This, my dear readers, is global warming.
The Earth has been warming since the start of the industrial revolution. But the speed at which the Earth is trapping heat now - double in 14 years – is unprecedented. No wonder glaciers are melting fast, ice covers are receding and typhoons are getting stronger. Some countries are experiencing heat waves.
In the last two weeks, parts of Canada and the United States have experienced heat waves with some areas having record temperatures. Canada set an all time high record of 49.5 degrees Celsius in Lytton, British Colombia. In Vancouver, Canada, more than a hundred people have died according to news reports.
For comparison, the hottest temperature in the Philippines was only 42.2 degrees Celsius, recorded in Tuguegarao, Cagayan on April 22, 1912 and May 11, 1969. This is seven degrees less than the record heat experienced by Canada a few days ago. No wonder people there are dying. They are not used to this hot weather.
My brother, who lives in Vancouver, said that ice, portable aircons, and even the smallest electric fans, are all sold out. The elderly are affected the most, he said. There were also forest fires but were put under control.
So the million dollar question is: will it be hotter in the future? The researchers said that “the study is only a snapshot relative to long-term climate change, and 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.”
July 08, 2021
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