In addition to trapping heat, new research suggests that greenhouse gases are eliminating the sky’s clouds — which could drastically speed up the pace of global warming over the coming century.
As carbon accumulates in the atmosphere, it breaks up the low-hanging stratocumulus clouds that help cool the planet. With those clouds out of the way, the planet could experience a rapid, global temperature increase of a catastrophic 14 degrees Fahrenheit, according to research published Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience.
Specifically, the new supercomputer calculations found that once atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations reach about 1,200 parts per million (PPM), the clouds will vanish and the world will rapidly heat up, mirroring a historic mass extinction event from 56 million years ago, writes Quanta Magazine’s Natalie Wolchover.
We’re currently at around 410 PPM, but based on the world’s ongoing dependence on fossil fuels, our atmosphere may reach the 1,200 PPM threshold before the end of the century.
If the global temperature rises just four degrees, enough to further limit the amount of clouds that form around the world, it would spell “the destruction of the world’s coral reefs, massive loss of animal species, and catastrophic extreme weather events,” in addition to “meters of sea-level rise that would challenge our capacity for adaptation,” climate scientist Michael Mann told Quanta.
Reference- Quanta mag, Futurism,Nature Geoscience.