Earth has no light source on its own, and the light and radiation will be absorbed by the sun. Theyreflect a fraction of the sun’s radiation to space. Over the past two decades, Earth’s brightness is dropping significantly, as seen from space. Initially, scientists concentrated on the moon’s dark side to quantify its faint but visible “earthshine”, a glow created by sunlight reflecting off earth onto the lunar surface. Their findings observed that this light has moderately darkened, and by checking satellite measurements, it is observed that the Earth is getting dimmer.
What exactly happened?
Usually, nearly 30 per cent of the light coming from the sun gets redirected by the earth back to space, usually by bright clouds. But the 30% may differ from time to time. In the year 1998, a research team from Southern California named Big Bear Solar Observatory came out to know the exact path of earth’s reflectivity or albedo, and this can be tracked by monitoring earthshine in the days every month and telescope can able to find out the dark side of the moon.
The researchers further stated that they appeared naturally in a specific context. They also used the moon as a mirror for earth, and this complete study was done for an entire solar cycle. It took nearly 20 years to know variations in the sun’s activity.
After three years, researchers started the Project Earthshine. Even NASA also started to measure Earth’s albedo with the help of a string of satellites known as Clouds and CERES or the Earth’s Radiant Energy System. Findings of both the projects matched up very clearly. From the year 2000 onwards, earth has reflected significantly less energy to the space, which we can say is nearly one-half a watt/square meter, which can be very much relatable to the dimming effect.
The above-said experiments and research work began two decades ago. Various other scientists have also predicted that water in warmer seas would evaporate fast and thicker clouds would develop. Therefore, more sunlight will be reflected in the space. But the whole scenario was quite the opposite of what was earlier expected. Earthshine and satellite results revealed the opposite—a warm ocean is a culprit of creating a hole in the clouds and where more sunlight is letting in. It was considered a new resurgence.
Another team of researchers stated that the gradual dimming pattern of the earth is because of human influences. Some others noted that considering all the high pollution impacts on earth, such as sea ice levels and increasing greenhouse gases, are another reason behind these problems that need to be further evaluated and researched for a new scope of research.
Earthshine project data discovered that the planet (earth) dimmed was precisely observed during the last three years of data collection from 2015 – 2017. By this information, scientists want to know it further about the exact reason behind that, hence based on their research. They found out that in 2014, a natural climate pattern was known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation in the Pacific Ocean, which happened because of a sudden increase in temperature level. Therefore, warmer seas meant sparser low-level clouds, and due to which more sunlight came inside.
What are the leading predicted causes?
Till now, we don’t know if it is human-induced or natural measured cloud reduction that exposes earth to more heating from the sun. It is still researched for more evaluation and findings. This slight evidence of radiation may be a result of various factors like those mentioned below:
- Increased temperatures;
- Sudden rise in sea level;
- Fluctuations in temperatures;
- Growing of drought conditions;
- An increased amount of heatwaves;
- Sudden changes in climatic conditions.
All the above said conditions would lead to sudden climate change, posing an urgent threat to the human race. We are all experiencing rapid climate impacts in the form of droughts to floods, leading to a rise in the sea levels. The world Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report ranked all the environmental threats from the top to least.
Essential measure to be taken to reduce environmental threats
To reduce and limit the increased temperatures globally, we all must remain abreast of the long-term complications, and also the vital guidelines to determine the sudden shift in temperatures. Particularly businesses, people, NGOs, and policy-makers, amongst others should take an immediate action to implement comprehensive climate goals and measures on climate change.
The World Economic Forum took the initiative to scale up the plan’s action by collaborating with the public and private sectors. Various industries and their work-streams have already been implemented to arrive at complete solutions.
For this initiative, various organizations have been involved ranging from many globally recognized eminent business leaders, Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, and Industries heads etc. They all grouped up to develop cost-effective solutions. The expected fruitful results should be the reduction of global warming, low-carbon atmosphere and climate-resilient economy as the major aspects. The main intention is to grab all prominent members and CEOs because they use their influence and position to make the best impact and collaboration with corporate partners and policy-makers to accelerate and bring out the best possible outcomes related to delivering a safer climate.
Example for a recent initiative
Recently, World Economic Forum in the year 2018 has created a plan on ocean action to protect oceans and it also ensured sustainable use of oceans for long-run usage. Various initiatives have been taken up to make the ocean environment more resilient.