“It’s a vicious cycle – warmer temperatures mean clouds trap more heat, which in turn leads to even more warming,” explains Andrew Dessler, a professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University.
Dessler warns that clouds will amplify the warming of anthropogenic climate change in a cloud feedback which will lock the heat from the planet in underneath a level of clouds. In a paper published in the December 10 issue of the journal Science, Dessler used measurements from the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) instrument onboard NASA’s Terra satellite to determine how much energy will be trapped in by the clouds.
“Based on my results, I think the chances that clouds will save us from dramatic climate change is pretty low,” he explains. “In fact, my work shows that clouds will likely be amplifying the warming from human activities.
“I think we can be pretty confident that temperatures will rise by several degrees Celsius over the next century if we continue our present trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions.”