For the first time ever, scientists were able to measure the atmospheric carbon dioxide’s input to the greenhouse effect at ground level outside laboratory conditions. According to the study results, the greenhouse effect is not just a hypothesis, but an every day reality created by humanity’s fossil fuel emissions.
The study proving that the greenhouse effect is real was led by the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), and sponsored by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. During their research, Berkley Lab researchers measured the amount of radiating heat CO2 particles can absorb at Earth’s surface over an 11-year period.
Scientists performed their measurements in two separate locations across North America and published their findings Feb. 25 in the journal Nature.
According to the study’s background information, the results were consistent with past studies that had linked greenhouse effect to human activity, while also supporting the accuracy of the present-day climate models focused on CO2 impact.
During their research, the members of the Berkeley Lab team measured the Earth’s radiative forcing at ground level in Oklahoma and the northern part of Alaska. Researchers explained that a positive radiative forcing occurs when the Earth manages to absorb more solar radiation than the planet sends back to space as thermal radiation.
Between the two radiations there is a subtle balance, but high CO2 levels often disturb it resulting in what we call the greenhouse effect. Instead of leaving the planet, the extra radiation gets absorbed by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and re-radiated in all directions. For this reason, the planet gets increasingly warmer as years go by.
Berkley Lab scientists recently found that in both locations there was a boost in the radiative forcing of nearly two-tenths of a Watt per every square meter every ten years. Additionally, the findings were consistent with a CO2 uptick of 22 parts-per-million increase recorded by NOAA’s CarbonTracker system between 2000 and 2010.
“We see, for the first time in the field, the amplification of the greenhouse effect because there’s more CO2 in the atmosphere to absorb what the Earth emits in response to incoming solar radiation,”
explained Daniel Feldman, lead author of the study and researcher at the Berkeley Lab’s Earth Sciences Division.
Mr. Feldman argued that his recent study provided a “critical link” between carbon dioxide levels and the greenhouse effect. No other previous study was able to do that outside a laboratory, the scientist added.
Moreover, the research team reported that their results still remained significant after adjusting them for a set of other factors that re-emit energy, such as clouds and water vapor.
Image Source: Money.CNN
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