Global warming is not something that is going to happen in the future. It’s already happening. And it is causing irreversible changes on our planet. Scientists have revealed that climate change has dramatically changed the cloud patterns all across the Earth. The clouds have shifted in such a way that it will make global warming worse. Findings of the study were published Monday in the journal Nature.

Global warming
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Cloud tops moving higher into the atmosphere

Such changes were long expected, but it was the first time scientists were able to thoroughly document the cloud shifts over a period of more than two decades. Climate researchers led by Joel Norris of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, concluded that the storm tracks were shifting closer to the poles. They also found that the tops of the clouds were moving even higher into the atmosphere.

Joel Norris and his colleagues collected weather satellite data between the years 1983 and 2009. Then they adjusted for various factors such as sensor degradation, instrument calibration, and satellite orbit to make the observations more accurate. It helped them identify large-scale cloud shifts between 1983 and 2009. Norris said, “A lot of times we think of climate change as something that’s going to occur in the future. This is happening right now.”

The cloud shifts could further fuel global warming

Scientists said that clouds typically found in the mid-latitudes had shifted towards the poles. It coincided with the expansion of subtropical dry zones. It doesn’t mean there would be no clouds in some parts of the world. However, it will drastically affect how solar radiations enter and leave the Earth’s system. The shift of cloud tracks toward the poles could further increase global warming.

According to Norris, less solar radiation strikes the Earth at higher altitudes. So, the clouds are now reflecting less radiation from the planet than they would have reflected if they were closer to the tropics. Also, higher cloud tops lead to thick cloud formations that act as a blanket preventing the heat on Earth from escaping.