Close to 85 years from now, our skies may look a lot different—which means life on the surface may look very different as well.
A study by published by The Guardian looks at the amount of cloud coverage Earth will have as it continues to warm: as the temperature rise, less clouds will form, which means more sunlight will hit the surface of Earth since those clouds won't be there to reflect it back into space. Because of this, temperatures could rise 4 degrees C, which is twice what our governments say is dangerous.
From the study:
The research indicates that fewer clouds form as the planet warms, meaning less sunlight is reflected back into space, driving temperatures up further still. The way clouds affect global warming has been the biggest mystery surrounding future climate change.
Professor Steven Sherwood, at the University of New South Wales, in Australia, who led the new work, said: "This study breaks new ground twice: first by identifying what is controlling the cloud changes and second by strongly discounting the lowest estimates of future global warming in favour of the higher and more damaging estimates."
"4C would likely be catastrophic rather than simply dangerous," Sherwood told the Guardian. "For example, it would make life difficult, if not impossible, in much of the tropics, and would guarantee the eventual melting of the Greenland ice sheet and some of the Antarctic ice sheet", with sea levels rising by many metres as a result.
Maybe one 2014 resolution we can all agree on is finding out more ways to curb our emissions.
[via The Guardian]