Researchers at The University of Auckland have reported a decreasing trend in average global cloud heights from 2000 to 2010, based on data gathered by the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) on NASA’s Terra satellite. The change over the ten-year span was 100 to 130 feet, and was mostly due to fewer clouds at higher altitudes. Researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey have also noticed that “the sky” in general has fallen about 90 feet.
It’s suspected that this may be indicative of some sort of atmospheric cooling mechanism in play that could help counteract global warming.
“This is the first time we have been able to accurately measure changes in global cloud height and, while the record is too short to be definitive, it provides just a hint that something quite important might be going on,” said lead researcher Professor Roger Davies.
Cloud heights are just one of the many factors that affect climate, and until now have not been able to be measured globally over a long span of time.
“Clouds are one of the biggest uncertainties in our ability to predict future climate,” said Davies. “Cloud height is extremely difficult to model and therefore hasn’t been considered in models of future climate. For the first time we have been able to accurately measure the height of clouds on a global basis, and the challenge now will be to incorporate that information into climate models. It will provide a check on how well the models are doing, and may ultimately lead to better ones.”
While Terra data showed yearly variations in global cloud heights, the most extreme caused by El Niño and La Niña events in the Pacific, the overall trend for the years measured was a decrease.
Professor Kip Brindle of Rutgers University said that “the sky” – meaning the ceiling of the earth’s atmosphere before entering space is falling at “an alarming rate.” Brindle told WWN “our data shows that the sky had not moved in two thousand years, but since January of 2012, it is falling approximately 2 feet a day. That means the earth’s atmosphere could collapse by December 21, 2012.”
Let’s hope not…
Reporting by WNN