You may have read this week that thanks to climate change (what else), the clouds – the clouds! – they can disappear by the end of the century, which in turn would be very bad for … climate change (what else). This news, melting the mind, arrived on Monday with the publication of a new study in the journal Nature. It is clearly shared because its discoveries are immediate and visceral – just the ability to remove the clouds is an almost comical demonstration of how much we are changing the planet. Not only do we imagine a cloudy world that is very strange, but it will also be pretty bad. At the moment, the clouds block a lot of sunlight, help cool the planet, and if the clouds go, we can be avoiding warming – much worse than anything we thought so far – in this century.
Everything is very worrying. Fortunately, Natalie Wolchover wrote a fine piece of work for Quanta magazine about what researchers are trying to understand and what they find. Walcher wrote that she worked on the piece for a year and shows: Her story goes far beyond the summaries of surveys that journalists often write and expertly demonstrate about what research involves. Far from the collapse of the new find in a flat fact, the Walchower part shows that, with new research and discoveries, what we do not know is as important as what we know.
And what we do not know about the future of the clouds is a lot. As Wolchover explains, we know that at different moments of history, the Earth's climate fluctuated greatly; in previous periods has become so hot that scientists can not recognize what causes the cradles. The disappearance of clouds may be one of the factors. As Wolchover writes: "For decades, rough calculations suggest that cloud loss can have a significant impact on the climate, but this concern remains speculative over the past few years when clouds' observations and simulations improve to the point where researchers can to gather convincing evidence. The way they have compiled the data to make these calculations is to fly through the cloud clouds with "hanging instruments from the airplane wings to measure atmospheric conditions and climb lasers from cloud droplets."
Even with this kind of data, calculating the cloud cover is extremely complex. As Walchover says, "today's supercomputers can not resolve network cells that are less than 100 kilometers per 100 kilometers. But clouds are often no more than several kilometers. "It's hard to simulate just how clouds differ from place to place and how weather will affect cloud cover. In fact, many scientists in the cloud repel the paper about nature, Paul Woesen said on Tuesday, believing that the authors had designed inappropriate data from a place that was particularly prone to cloud loss instead of considering how cloud loss might differ from place.
Another great unknown? Whether we are going to affect climate conditions that will make the clouds disappear first. Researchers say this will happen when CO 2 in the atmosphere hit 1,200 parts per million – approximately three times when we are today. As the Robinson Meyer of the Atlantic Ocean said Good news: I think it is unlikely that atmospheric carbon will reach 1200 ppm by the end of the century. Bad news: Definitely not impossible. "
All of these factors mean, in the end, that you do not have to worry about losing a cloud? I guess this is a misconduct. One of the biggest problems that hamper our understanding of climate change is our inability to grasp exactly how intimately interconnected interplanetary forces on Earth will combine to enlarge the problem – the concept that David Wallace categorizes as "Stunts" in their new book The Unfortunate Land of Living . This explanation of uncertainty is also elegantly woven from Wolchover's piece and is what makes it so fascinating: It is not said that the clouds will disappear; studying the world in which they could. This opportunity is long enough, I hope, to convince us to minimize the chances of a cloudless future.