Science 3 min read

Study Claims Climate Change Could Soon Eradicate Clouds

A new climate study claims that if current trends continue, stratocumulus clouds could disappear from our atmosphere in less than a century.

If CO2 levels continue to increase at current levels, clouds could disappear from Earth in less than a century. ¦ Pexels

If CO2 levels continue to increase at current levels, clouds could disappear from Earth in less than a century. ¦ Pexels

Recently, we lost Bramble Cay melomys, the first mammal species, to global warming, which sets a grim precedent for biodiversity.

Coffee is one thing, but climate change is threatening to trigger another mass extinction that would wipe out many animal and plant species, including all insects.

Dramatically impacting the planet and menacing the existence of humanity, climate change extinctions don’t stop here.

Now, we can add clouds to the list of climate-endangered entities. Yes, clouds. Specifically, a very common type of clouds that play a key role in the planet’s climate.

Yep, Clouds can go Extinct

The more CO2 and other noxious greenhouse gases pumped into the atmosphere, the more fragile clouds become.

Clouds are a tricky ingredient in climate models because of their unpredictability. It’s hard to accurately predict when, where, and how dense clouds could be.

Due to human activities, CO2 concentrations in the air are on the rise, and this doesn’t bode well for clouds and global climate.

From 200-280 parts per million (ppm) before the industrial revolution, carbon dioxide concentration surpassed 400 ppm in 2013.

The levels of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere have never been this high in over 50 million years.

Read More: Milestone: Australia Chooses Climate Change Over Coal

According to NASA scientists, at CO2 levels of 1,200 ppm, stratocumulus clouds could break up and disappear.

Stratocumulus clouds are low-altitude, blanket-like clouds that cover 20 percent of subtropical oceans. By radiating back 30 to 60 percent of sunlight into space, stratocumulus clouds help to cool the planet.

TO study these effects, climatologists ran a simulation on a supercomputer modeling a 25 square kilometer section above California’s subtropical clouds with increased CO2 levels.

They found that the tipping point is 1200 ppm, at which point stratocumulus clouds become unstable and start breaking up into scattered small clouds.

According to the research team:

“Stratocumulus decks become unstable and break up into scattered clouds when CO2 levels rise above 1,200 ppm. In addition to the warming from rising CO2 levels, this instability triggers a surface warming of about 8 K globally and 10 K in the subtropics. Once the stratocumulus decks have broken up, they only re-form once CO2 concentrations drop substantially below the level at which the instability first occurred.”

The disappearance of stratocumulus clouds could lead to a rise in temperatures of 8 degrees Celsius (14° Fahrenheit).

If current trends continue, carbon dioxide concentrations would hit 1200 ppm within a century.

“I think and hope that technological changes will slow carbon emissions so that we do not actually reach such high CO2 concentrations,” said Caltech’s Tapio Schneider, lead author of the report. “But our results show that there are dangerous climate change thresholds that we had been unaware of.”

Read More: First Mammal Goes Extinct due to Climate Change

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Zayan Guedim

Trilingual poet, investigative journalist, and novelist. Zed loves tackling the big existential questions and all-things quantum.

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    Anthony Crosier March 31 at 4:34 am GMT

    Insect, Mammals then clouds, what’s next? The extreme Global Warming eliminates it one by one. 😨

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