Global temperature does not rise or fall dramatically in the long run, a new study confirms. Conducted by researchers at Duke University and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, this shows that temperature should remain stable, unless external factors interfere.
Lead author Patrick Brown, a Ph.D. student at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, explains that natural climate cycles alone are not enough to explain the changes, hence, drivers such as the concentration surge of greenhouse gases is also needed to create the constant global temperature changes. The study, published in Journal of Climate on Feb. 1, required studying Earth’s energy over the last 15 years with current global climate models and NASA’s own satellite findings.
According to the researchers, a warming Earth goes through complex and puzzling changes in the atmosphere and transportation of radiative heat to bring back its temperature equilibrium. Scientists term these changes as the Planck Response, where the Earth’s emission of infrared energy is increased and released through the top of the atmosphere.
“Our analysis confirmed that the Planck Response plays a dominant role in restoring global temperature stability, but to our surprise we found that it tends to be overwhelmed locally by heat-trapping positive energy feedbacks related to changes in clouds, water vapour, and snow and ice,” Brown said. “This initially suggested that the climate system might be able to create large, sustained changes in temperature all by itself.”
Wenhong Li, assistant professor of climate at Duke, adds there are other mechanisms that stabilise global temperature apart from the Planck Response. Through rigorous investigation of the changes globally and locally, the research team found that energy, which has been released over cooler parts during a natural increased temperature, is transported from the Pacific to polar regions where the Response offsets the heat-trapping effects.
Many still believe that humans do not play a role in global warming so this study debunks that idea as well as the theory that global warming is unpredictable. Additionally, this proves the role of the changes in atmospheric circulation and the transfer of massive amounts of energy in balancing the Earth’s temperature after a natural warming event.