Earth's clouds are sinking lower in the sky, with fewer clouds at high altitudes and lower cloudtops in general, says a new analysis of satellite data. The coming fog means that Earth will cool down more efficiently — so the lowering of clouds could slow the effects of global warming.
This potential negative feedback loop is evident in about 10 years of satellite data, so not much at all in the grand scheme of climate research. But it's a hint that something interesting is happening, according to Roger Davies, the lead researcher on a new paper based on findings from NASA's Terra spacecraft.
Several NASA assets look at clouds in a variety of ways, measuring their size, structure, formation, altitude and other vitals. The data is important for weather forecasting as well as long-term climate forecasting. Among other instruments, the Terra satellite contains nine cameras at different angles that produce 3-D images of clouds around the world. The satellite launched in 1999 and the new study examined its first decade of data.
The data show that global average cloud height declined by roughly one percent over the decade, decreasing by around 100 to 130 feet. This was mostly the result of fewer clouds forming at the highest altitudes, according to a NASA release. Scientists are not sure why this happened, but it might be due to a change in atmospheric circulation patterns at high altitudes, Davies said. But they do know what it could mean: A drop in cloud height would allow more heat to escape the Earth into space, reducing the overall temperature of the planet. So differences in cloud formation, wrought by a warming climate, could help counteract the effects of that warming.
For all their impact on our weather and our moods, clouds are one of the most poorly understood variables in climate change models. Terra and other cloud-watchers, notably CloudSat, aim to improve cloud representation in those models. Terra is scheduled to keep gathering this type of data for another decade, so maybe by 2020 we'll know what the clouds are up to.
Well, we will certainly need a lot more data about this to really confirm what's going on. But I would not at all be surprised that the Earth has natural systems like this that keep it in its relative "comfort zone." Our earth is pretty amazing, and even if we wasted it so badly that we all died off, in a few tens of millenia it would probably be happily cruising along doing exactly what it wants to do, minus us.
Just goes to show you that global warming and weather are too complex for mankind to predict anything reliably. Were just guessing just like with Wall Street.....
While clouds in the daytime act to reduce the insolation that makes its way to the surface, it also increases the long wave radiation that is kept near the surface. This means milder nights which could have an impact on the natural biota, or it could just do nothing... who knows, we've only scratched the surface of cloud thermodynamics.
There is a reason for the clouds lowering, it is very simple and I would have thought every scientist in the world would know what it is but apparently this writer is un-informed.
For the last 15 years the climate has been cooling. When climate cools, it also decreases the height of the atmosphere. Our atmosphere has shrunken dramatically. Our artificial satellites can stay aloft longer now because of less atmospheric drag.
There is no "man made" global warming. The planet went through a warming "cycle" just as it has done for millions of years, as these cycles go this one was rather mild. The scientists who have been screaming "AGW" are misinformed at best and liars at worst. Many of the most famous "AWG" proponents have been proven to be liars, but only so that government money can continue to underwrite their "studies".
Global warming would be nothing to fear if it were real. Higher concentrations of Carbon Dioxide would be nothing to fear. Fact: Plants need less water and grow faster with higher concentrations of Carbon Dioxide the improvement is pretty remarkable. The faster growth rates may be able to save mankind from the lower temperatures and shorter growing seasons we seem to be heading for.
We should fear however, we should fear global cooling. Little ice ages are a normal phase the earth goes into every couple of hundred years or so. The normal state of the earths climate is actually iceage. Every one hundred thousand years or so we have an "interglacial" period where the earth warms. They usually last between ten thousand and twelve thousand years. We have been in this one for eleven thousand five hundred years. It is time for a return to the normal condition of earths climate, miles high ice and smaller oceans. We won't like it when it comes. We must all hope for only a "little ice age" and hope the normal, full blown ice age delays it's return.
Let me suggest further reading at http://www.landscheidt.info/?q=node/189" to start
jakraig, you can't scientifically say that the Earth is cooling because it is warming - see: Climate Skeptic Sponsors New Climate Study, Confirms ‘Global Warming Is Real' from 10 October, 2011. The claims for future cooling are 'accurate' if you presume AGW isn't stronger than global cooling (which is 'overdue'), which it may or may not be. But You can NOT claim that we are currently cooling as ALL data shows we are warming.
Forcasting future climate is FAR from a precise science, so we are not positive whether it will warm or cool, but essentially all current models show that we're going to keep warming for at least 100 years (length of most models) to come. And those use ALL of our current climate knowledge, that includes historic cycles.
Also, the current warming rate is happening at a rate far faster than the normal rate. The only times through history that warming has happened this fast has been 'massive events' such as supervolcanoes, meteorite impact, or massive methane release. Even though those are natural, the fact that none of those have happened recently and we're still seeing this strong upward trend should tell you that something else (like maybe a pesky little animal) is causing the warming.
Everyone here still believe in global warming?
We may talk about LOCAL warming... but the Global earth temperature is stable for the past 15 years, and we may even say that it has lower a bit.
The UK Meteorology Office have collected the data from more than 30,000 measuring stations around the planet, and they show that there was no global warming in the past 15 years
Check this link :
And saying that ''essentially all current models show that we're going to keep warming for at least 100 years''
They can't even predict what will be the temperature next week and you think current model can be accurate for 100 YEARS???
Sooo...... the sky *is* smurfing?
Wait one second... you just posted The Daily Mail as evidence? I'm not sure if you're just an internet troll or someone who is truly that dense. If you have real academic proof, I welcome you posting it. But if you suggest I read a tabloid for my scientific information I will simply ignore you.
As for your next post, forcasting climate and weather are based on the same physical principles but are fundamentally different. Think of it this way; You are flipping a coin. Knowing everything about it, you can realisticly guess correctly 50% of the time. This is like short term weather forcasting. But if you flip it one million times, you can be fairly certain that the number of heads will be within a certain (small by percentage) range. This is like climatic forcasts. You don't need to know the exact value of every single day, just the general trends.
This annalogy probably isn't any good, but it makes sense in my mind. Regardless, until I see a long term climate model that uses reliable data sets and doesn't just assume that since it got colder after it got warmer in the past that it will happen again, I will chose to believe the side with the most evidence.
its going to get warmer...then cooler...then warmer...then cooler...then warmer...then cooler....see a trend here?
Tertertert, it is hard to know where to begin. The publisher of data has nothing to do with the validity. It may or may not be correct but it can't be dismissed because of the or company or person who published it.
I guess the wonderful, accurate studies, models and forcasts for the next 100 years will be as accurate as the ones for the last 25 years that have been so accurate. Not one of the warming studies or models have predicted the last fifteen years of cooling. They are all scratching their heads about it and trying to hide it. There are record snows in North Africa, Australia, Eastern Europe, Alaska, Western USA, Mongolia, China, Japan Pakistan and others. I know that many AGW believers say that global warming brings excess snow, does it also bring record low temperatures, temperatures lower than -40°C in Eastern Europe? Does it bring heavy snow to Rome? Does it freeze the Danube?
These extraordinary temperatures and snows have happened three years in a row now. These are not freaks. Our weather is getting cooler. Places that usually only get a few centimeters are now getting meters.
People who deny AGW are called deniers with a very bad connotation like deniers of the Holocaust. Warming won't hurt people, cold will kill hundreds of millions. I hope the AGW people are right, we can live with that and live comfortably. If it gets cold, a lot of us are going to die. Well I guess that sounds stupid, I mean we are all going to die aren't we, but I mean that many of us could be killed prematurely from cooling. Perhaps 15 years is too short to be a trend, maybe we should wait another 25 and see what happens. By looking at what is happening to the sun and the magnetic fields on the sun and the earth I'm pretty sure we can accurately predict that for at least the next 60 years probably much longer, there will be cooling.
Don’t you think it’s kind of dangerous for humans to think we can’t do ANYTHING to affect the environment?
If you are saying that humans don’t even understand current climate trends, much less being able to predict future trends, then doesn’t that mean we should be MORE careful what we do to the environment?
After all we are not even close to being able to move to a new planet if this one gets fubar.
How does it make any sense to say “we have no influence” and follow that with “we have nothing to worry about”?
Are we expecting Jesus or aliens to come and fix it for us?
Do you think the people who die because of the warming care if its man made or not or global or local?
Are they just supposed to accept it because its a "natural cycle"?
I don't even want to leave the office for lunch because the heat is so uncomfortable. You think it helps at all that YOU don't believe its warmer?
World-wide people want information, solutions, action.
You will not win any support by suggesting we do nothing.
killerT, that reminds me of a lecture my old sociology prof gave a few years back. To paraphrase him;
'Anyone who doesn't believe that humans are changing the environment is a blundering fool who disregards facts. We need to change the physical world to allow 7B of us to live. Now, you can debate the exact facts on the degree of the change, or the potential impacts of that change, but as a social scientist it scares me to think that we are trying to stick 10B [he was referencing the UN's prediction of the 'stable' maximum population] of us on this planet with the same unsustainable resource uses that have produced some very big problems. Modern civilization has grown up in the last 10k years where the climate was incredably stable. Any kind of change in this is stability will completely change civilization, and that's what scientists mean when they mean 'save humanity' from climate change'
@tertertert, You do realize that the tabloid Daily Mail article you pooh-poohed references the Met Office and the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit as its source? In other words, they're using data published from the nerve center of the Global Warming community telling us there has been no appreciable warming since 1997.
Perhaps you're also aware that those computer models, as jakraig pointed out, aren't very accurate; utterly failing to predict the non-warming of the last 15 years. What gives you so much faith in the computer models? Climate scientists don't understand yet why the earth bounces between glacial and interglacial periods; why do we suppose that they know with absolute certainty that any relatively recent warming trends (depending on what time range you use) will continue for another 100 years, especially since there hasn't been any for the last 15?
And if those scientists don't understand past warming/cooling trends before hominids could even make fire, why do we suppose that they're right about humans being significant contributors to 20th century warming?
Oh, but they've got data, you say. Sure, and when the data is analyzed correctly the trends are there, but they're much smaller and much more variable than climate scientists would have us believe and there is no correlation whatsoever to human activity. Only the famously accurate (just kidding) computer models predict catastrophic warming.
How about Michael Mann's hockey stick graph of temperature trends that the IPCC relied on? The one that the entire case for global warming rests upon? Debunked. No one has been able to reproduce it with anything similar to the data set he used...which he rather inconveniently lost.
Warming faster than at any time in earth's history? Not hardly. Only if you believe Mann's debunked hockey stick graph.
Melting glaciers and ice sheets? Well, yeah. Ice sheets and glaciers have been receding since the peak of the last Ice Age. Nothing new there. Eventually they'll grow again as the earth cools...hopefully not in my lifetime.
Sea levels rising? Yeah, that too. We're in an interglacial period, remember? Accelerating sea level rise? Nope. In fact it should decelerate over time because every millimeter rise means water has to cover a larger portion of the earth's surface.
Disaster and woe due to a warming earth? Actually, the opposite, as others have pointed out. Cold snaps kill many times more people than hot summers do. Plants and people thrive on a relatively warmer planet.
@killerT and tertertert, in response to your ramblings about human population and its impacts...humans absolutely impact the environment, often with negative consequences. But eventually we also learn to clean up after ourselves. Here in the U.S. we have cleaner water, cleaner air, more forests and more protected habitat than we did 40 years ago and that trend holds true for much of the developed world...and shows no signs of abating. It's only in the developing world that deforestation and pollution are still increasing problems...until they too become wealthy enough to solve the problems themselves.
Do humans impact global climate? Dunno. It hasn't been proven yet.
Is the U.N.'s so-called 10 billion sustainability limit accurate? Who knows? It's a stupid made-up number just like 350ppm CO2 that has no scientific evidence to support it. Predictions of overpopulation and associated problems have been completely wrong so far, it's unlikely they're getting any more accurate. We do know, however, that population growth is slowing and in most of the Western world is actually in decline. Once population growth stops in Africa and southeast Asia the global population will decline. Estimates are around mid-century and somewhere around that magic 10 billion number you so knowingly throw around.
So what's the big deal? I don't know.
Here is what we know. We live on a dynamic planet and everything is interconnected. Everything, from amoeba to nematodes to humans changes the environment. Life and this planet are on a one way trip and there is no rewind or redos.
Tert, the models for weather and climate are based on the same principals and only factor in what climate people think are the most important. Theses projections are filled with error and uncertainty and these scientists know it. The scenarios the climate models use are nowhere close to reality and are overly simplistic due to lack of computing power. It is a best guess with little accuracy. These models were tested by running them "on the past" data and if the results were "close", ie less than 50% off, they were good to go.
We are almost clueless on how the atmosphere works and if anyone says different they are arrogant liars. This is all a best guess. Yes the planet will warm and cool and it will keep doing so long after we become extinct. How quickly that day comes is all on us. We cannot, do not, and should not control the atmosphere, climate, or weather because we have no clue what we are doing. We need to focus on dealing with colder weather because that is what's coming our way. We will have to move to suitable climes.
View ALL science "discoveries" with a healthy scepticism and maybe 50-60 years from now when atmospheric/climate science is 100 years old, we might be able to say we know a little bit of something.
I agree jakraig, average global temps are down each year for 15 years.
Computer models can be adaptive, and extremely complex but still be computed on a cell-phone. Thanks to tinkering code ing humans.
Simply going by my local climate i've personally observed...and tons of data and storm watching globally.
If this cloud drop has only happened in recent 10 years...which i have observed has happened by average of all cloud ceiling and nexrad radar. For the past 5 years..the last 2 have been lowest.I'm only 30 and have maybe 15 years of interest. xD
Then various human activities to modfiy weather, could be a strong influence, As most of it has been applied in large scale "tests" in the last 10-20 years.
Our gravity fields are changeing...yup
We have somehow lost our upper atmosphere...
And our sun is pissed...
Man i hope that aluminum bicarbonate, zinc, silver and whatever particulate we contributed really reflects those rays.
typically moisture (high humidity) near the ground holds heat...and cold. It could be 38 degrees, but with a -20 wind...bam..ice and sleet all over roads..trees..powerlines...SHTF... As well as putting whatever is in the clouds closer to our respiratory systems.
These gasses that make up smog...will also be closer to the ground. In the past 3-5 years...this has only been for brief periods...Where heat was also a contributor it lowered oxygen content as well. Provokeing people's health issues. asthma and many ailments have been on the rise for the last ten years as well. 10-20x more respiratory ailments where radioactive particulate is present -.-
Continued monitoring of any kind would be nice xD
I hope to see some evidence of upper atmosphere soon =-c
Though i wonder if all our infra red, microwave emitting satellites, heat our atmosphere and surface? Especially combined with all the radioactive and ground based emf,and various heat emiting devices...
What happens if there is no, normal ice age? Just fits of extreme weather. for the next 10,000 years?
No season stays for more then 2-3 weeks. we experience days with 130*f with nights at -90 or more. while other times it stays 80-100 even with no sun. Some days there is no sun. certain areas don't see night. others get night for a few months and sun for weeks. Sometimes the earth spins backwards and reverse...but we still stand here, there are no earth quakes...lava flows constantly. As the sky zips and zags and dances overhead. Winds are constantly 40mph or more. Tornadoes are constant. we feed one at the state park. Some have started to believe they are alive. I laugh knowing the roaring banshee sleeps in winter. Frozen solid as if suspended in time. Melting in the 1st spring. Not sure why they always form in the same spots yet. You can see stars here all day and all night. All year.
the earths equator moves and twists...moveing up 20-40 * north or south of its recent known normal. At the same time the earth wobbles 40-60 degrees due ssw. and then back the other way just the same. While the surface floats like a magic 8 ball answer? Some how catching up at times things seem to align. And things are calm.
High tide comes 4 times a day. Some areas don't see water in their bays and rivers for years. Until floods or the cycles (alignment of moons and other planets) bring it to them.
hmm...wait...this sounds familiar...crap did this happen already? I'm just trying to imagine future weather... o.0
check this out
This is really a very bad thing. It will effect everything in the negative way… i.e.: Cold Front
Not to mention artic weather, and other natural weather phenomenon from the water cycle (because the water in the upper atmosphere effects the artic weather) and the vortexes found in tornados and huricanes. This will make the spouts wider and stronger. (Have you ever filled up a bathtub with water, and let it drain, the spout started off being narrow, and then ended up wide and strong.) I am sorry I disagree with this writer.