A study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters shows that the climate change on the planet has made the earth reflect less light than ever before. The planet has seen its light dimming as a result of the warming of ocean waters.
According to the researchers, Earth reflects about 30 percent of the sunlight it receives. It is now observed that the planet is reflecting about half a watt less light per square meter than it was 20 years ago. It is the clouds in the atmosphere, that is responsible for the bright appearance of our planet in the solar system, and they’ve always been quite complicated to observe.
The Earth’s reflectance is an essential determinant of the earth’s climate, since, changes in climate arise from the simultaneous evolution of the solar intensity, the Earth’s albedo, and greenhouse insulation. “The albedo drop was such a surprise to us when we analyzed the last three years of data after 17 years of nearly flat albedo,” said Philip Goode the lead author of the study.
Researchers said and noted that two things affect the net sunlight reaching the Earth: the Sun’s brightness and the planet’s reflectivity. Earth’s albedo observations made by the researchers did not tally with the periodic changes in the Sun’s brightness, and they say that something on Earth is responsible for changes in Earth’s reflectiveness.
According to NASA’s Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) project, there has also been a reduction in bright, reflective low-lying clouds over the eastern Pacific Ocean in recent years. The result came out for the researchers and they noted that over a duration of two decades, the amount of light reflected by Earth dropped 0.5 percent which is roughly half a watt less light per square meter. Major changes were noticed from the earthshine data of the last three years showing even more decline towards its end.
Many scientists had hoped that a warmer Earth might lead to more clouds and higher albedo, which would then help to moderate warming and balance the climate system.