By looking at clouds covering the Earth’s surface, scientists from NASA, the University of Washington and the National Center for Atmospheric Research have made accurate measurements of the Earth’s energy balance, according to The Guardian. The data they collected point to new relationships between outgoing radiation and heat that vary across the planet.
The researchers compared different variables, like temperature, heat and water vapor, to get a better idea of future changes clouds might undergo. With the kind of cloud activity they forecasted, scientists say that the cooling effect of clouds will lessen and contribute to more warming.
The results indicate that previous works finding the Earth could become less sensitive to clouds’ cooling effect are likely mistaken. Scientists add that other studies looking at changes to Earth’s temperature may not be as meaningful as once thought because of high variability in the short-term record they relied on.