The thing about danger is, most times, we don’t see it coming until it is too late. We go along with our daily lives completely oblivious that harm will soon befall us. Take climate change, for example. It is having a disastrous effect on our planet. Just a few things that its already ruined include human mental health, the bramble cay, and Greenland. But, the damage isn’t over yet. In fact, it‘s just beginning. Climate change will continue to cause harm until we successfully reduce our greenhouse emissions. If we don’t, scientists predict that the next victim might be clouds. As expressed in a controversial Geoscience study, the fluffy parts of the sky might not be safe if we continue our climate-harming practices.
Specifically, the report shows that climate change would have a major effect on stratocumulus clouds. For those who don’t know, this refers to the big fluffy clouds we see when the sky is overcast. On sunnier days, this refers to the waves or lines of cotton ball-like clouds in the sky. For years, these clouds have sparked the imaginations of children looking for shapes in the heavens but, they do so much more than that. These clouds play a vital role in climate stability. Their tops reflect the sun back into space, protecting our atmosphere from its dangerous UV rays.
Stratocumulus clouds cover 1/5 of the oceans on and around the equator. This is a significant amount. At the rate that global temperatures are climbing, we can’t afford to lose these reflective surfaces. But, these pleas are falling on deaf ears. As a result, this planet is edging closer to a future where stratocumuli vanish.
The potential disappearance of the stratocumuli
A computer simulation created by environmental scientists shows how cloud dynamics in subtropical regions would change as the percentage of greenhouse gases increases. The model shows this increase causes stratocumulus decks to lose their stability. In other words, they break up into smaller clouds. Based on their research, the scientists believe this occurrence will take place within a century if emissions rise to a level of approximately 1.2K parts per million (ppm). Right now, the Earth’s atmosphere has 400 ppm of CO2. This may not seem like much but, before industrialization, it was significantly lower. It was at 280 ppm. When the stratocumulus decks dissipate, the model predicts global temperatures will rise by at least 8 Kelvins ie 14.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 8 degrees Celsius. In subtropical regions, this increases to 10K. To make things worse, our cloud cover will remain in this state until CO levels dip below 1.2K ppm.
In the past, many denied that climate change existed. But with rising global surfaces wreaking havoc on the polar ice caps, this claim is no longer true. No scientist worth his or her salt will deny the importance of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Still, some have an issue with the analysis detailed above. These opponents believe the researchers didn’t conduct a thorough, comprehensive analysis. Their main issue is, the researchers only examined cloud dynamics in a specific subtropical region. They took this data to look at areas around the world with similar clouds decks and made their predictions. Thus, the opponents believe this model is too simple and doesn’t take all factors into account. If the clouds vanish, it won’t happen instantaneously.
No matter who you agree with, scientists must improve the data used in their climate models. They must pay closer attention to cloud dynamics as climate change continues to wreak havoc on our planet. This isn’t standard practice in the scientific community because clouds are so varied around the world. This makes them challenging to model when creating a global simulation.
The Bottom Line
Both sides have valid points but no one can deny that climate change is a real threat to our future on this planet. Look at what it‘s already done to our weather. Many areas are experiencing never seen before conditions. This highlights the importance of the above model, regardless of its limited scope. The information it generated provided insight into our future. We now know the damage that can occur, meaning we can take the steps to change it now. We can make the world better for future generations.