Earth retains ‘alarming’ amount of heat: ‘Temperature is rising much faster than expected’

In their study, the researchers warn of an “alarming trend”. “The scale of the heat increase is unprecedented,” said Norman Loeb, a NASA scientist and lead author of the study. “Global temperature is rising faster than expected.”

The researchers recorded a doubling of the energy imbalance – the difference between the amount of radiant energy from the sun absorbed by the Earth’s surface and the amount of infrared radiation reflected back into space. This multiplier was observed using satellite data between 2005 and 2019. In 2005 there was already a positive imbalance of about half a watt per square meter of energy from the sun. In 2019 that was already one watt per square meter.

What does that mean concretely? When there is a positive imbalance in the equilibrium, the Earth receives more heat than it loses. This inevitably contributes to global warming. The study also showed that the doubling was due in part to an increase in greenhouse gases and a decrease in the amount of sea ice.

Unless heat absorption slows, researchers expect larger-than-expected climate changes. And they caution one thing is for sure: We are responsible for part of it.

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Megan Vasquez

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