Earth's thin atmosphere as viewed from space. (Credit: NASA)
When global temperatures rise, the Earth has a self-correcting mechanism called the Planck Response, which allows it to cool back down. The Planck Response is a large increase in infrared energy emitted by the Earth as it warms. The infrared energy increase creates a negative radiative feedback which allows accumulated heat to escape out of the atmosphere.
In a release from Duke University, evidence has shown that the Planck Response does not successfully cool the Earth back down when human-made greenhouse gases are produced and temperatures keep rising, as in the current global warming scenario. This find suggests the current global warming trend is not natural and mostly human-made.
To obtain the results, researchers used data from the past 15 years, including global climate models and NASA satellite observations of the Earth’s energy budget. Although they found evidence for the Planck Response counteracting warming over the whole globe, they also found the mechanism could be subverted by local effects that cause heat retention, like changes in clouds, water vapor, or snow and ice conditions.
Top image: Earth’s thin atmosphere as viewed from space. (Credit: NASA)