Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists Confirm Earth’s Energy Is Out of Balance

02.05.2005


Scientists have concluded more energy is being absorbed from the sun than is emitted back to space, throwing the Earth’s energy "out of balance" and warming the globe.


Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) measurements show the reflected solar radiation (left) and emitted heat radiation (right) for January 1, 2002. In both images, the lightest areas represent thick clouds, which both reflect radiation from the Sun and block heat rising from the Earth’s surface. Notice the clouds above the western Pacific Ocean, where there is strong uprising of air, and the relative lack of clouds north and south of the equator. Credit: NASA


The Earth’s energy balance refers to the amount of energy received from the sun (yellow arrows) minus the energy reflected and emitted from the Earth (red arrows). Clouds play an important role in regulating this balance. Thin cirrus clouds permit sunlight to pass through them, while blocking a significant amount of the heat radiating from the surface. Thick cumulus clouds reflect most sunlight, and block the majority of heat radiating from the surface. Credit: NASA



Scientists from NASA, Columbia University, New York, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, Calif. used satellites, data from buoys and computer models to study the Earth’s oceans. They confirmed the energy imbalance by using precise measurements of increasing ocean heat content over the past 10 years.

The study reveals Earth’s energy imbalance is large by standards of the planet’s history. The imbalance is 0.85 watts per meter squared. That will cause an additional warming of 0.6 degrees Celsius (1 degree Fahrenheit) by the end of this century.


To understand the difference, think of a one-watt light bulb shining over an area of one square meter (10.76 square feet). Although it doesn’t seem like much, adding up the number of feet around the world creates a big effect. To put this number into perspective, an imbalance of one-watt per square meter, maintained for the past 10,000 years is enough to melt ice equivalent to one kilometer (.6 mile) of sea level, if there were that much ice.

"The energy imbalance is an expected consequence of increasing atmospheric pollution, especially carbon dioxide, methane, ozone, and black carbon particles. These pollutants block the Earth’s heat radiation from escaping to space, and they increase absorption of sunlight," said Jim Hansen of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York. He is the lead author of the new study, which is in this week’s Science Magazine Science Express.

As the Earth warms it emits more heat. Eventually the Earth will be back in balance, if the greenhouse gas emissions are kept at the same level of today. Scientists know it takes the ocean longer to warm than the land. The lag in the ocean’s response has practical consequences. It means there is an additional global warming of about one degree Fahrenheit that is already in the pipeline. Even if there were no further increase of human-made gases in the air, climate would continue to warm that much over the next century.

Warmer world-wide water temperatures also affect other things. "Warmer waters increase the likelihood of accelerated ice sheet disintegration and sea level rise during this century," Hansen said. Since 1993, sea levels have been measured by satellite altimeters. Data has shown they have risen by approximately 3.1 centimeters or 1.26 inches per decade.

Although 3.1 centimeters is a small change, the rate of increase is twice as large as in the preceding century. There are positive feedbacks that come into play, as the area of ice melt increases. The researchers agree monitoring ice sheets and sea level is necessary to best ensure the system is in balance.

Rob Gutro | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/environment/earth_energy.html
http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Research sheds new light on forces that threaten sensitive coastlines
24.04.2017 | Indiana University

nachricht NASA sees the end of ex-Tropical Cyclone 02W
21.04.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor

24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Nanoimprinted hyperlens array: Paving the way for practical super-resolution imaging

24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>