A new study published in the journal Science has concluded that our current models of climate change may be inaccurate when it comes to determining the degree of temperature rise from an increase in atmospheric CO2.
By analysing the composition of clouds, the team determined that the amount of ice contained within them was far less than previously thought, instead, they contained much more liquid water.
This is significant as liquid water is much less efficient at reflecting light rays than ice water is. As a result more energy will reach the earth’s surface and in turn will cause fewer clouds with ice water to form, exacerbating the current trend of warming.
Before this analysis models predicted that global temperatures would increase by an average of 4.6 degrees Celsius when the atmospheric CO2 content doubles, with the new data accounted for the researchers say the warming should be revised to 5.6 degrees Celsius.
A nearly 1 degree Celsius rise onto current predictions could have potentially devastating effects, as researchers have seen in the climate record that with every 1 degree increase in the global average the sea level will rise roughly 20 meters.
This will also have the effect of making the international goal to keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius, as set forth by the Paris Climate Agreement, even more difficult and important to achieve.