Earth’s lower atmosphere is expanding due to climate change

Earth’s atmosphere is rising due to climate change, a brand new examine reveals.

Weather balloon measurements, taken within the Northern Hemisphere over the previous 40 years, reveal that the bottom layer of Earth’s atmosphere — referred to as the troposphere — has been expanding upward at a price of roughly 164 ft (50 meters) per decade, and climate change is the trigger, in accordance to findings printed Nov.r 5 within the journal Science Advances

“This is an unambiguous sign of changing atmospheric structure,” examine co-author Bill Randel, a scientist on the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, said in a statement. “These results provide independent confirmation, in addition to all the other evidence of climate change, that greenhouse gases are altering our atmosphere.”

Related: 10 signs that Earth’s climate is off the rails

The troposphere is the layer of the atmosphere we reside and breathe in. It extends from sea degree to a top starting from 4.3 miles (7 kilometers) above the poles to 12.4 miles (20 km) over the tropics. As the layer of atmosphere that incorporates essentially the most warmth and moisture, it is also the place quite a lot of atmospheric climate happens.

Air within the atmosphere expands when it is sizzling and contracts when it is chilly, so the troposphere’s higher boundary, referred to as the tropopause, naturally shrinks and expands with the altering of the seasons. 

But by analyzing atmospheric information similar to strain, temperature and humidity — taken between 20 and 80 levels north latitude — and pairing it with GPS information, researchers confirmed that as growing portions of greenhouse gases lure extra warmth within the atmosphere, the tropopause is rising greater than ever earlier than. 


What’s extra, the speed of the rise appears to be growing. According to the examine, whereas the tropopause rose roughly 164 ft (50 m) per decade between 1980 and 2000, that enhance rose to 174 ft (53.3 m) per decade between 2001 and 2020. Taking under consideration pure occasions of their area of examine, similar to two volcanic eruptions within the Nineteen Eighties and the periodic Pacific warming El Niño within the late Nineties, the researchers estimated that human exercise nonetheless accounted for 80% of the whole enhance in atmospheric top.

Climate change is not the one human-made driver of the rising tropopause. The stratosphere — the layer above the troposphere — is additionally shrinking, thanks to the previous launch of ozone-depleting gases. These gases shrank the stratosphere by the destruction of the stratospheric ozone layer, though restrictions towards their emission in newer years have brought on the atmospheric concentrations of those gases to decline.

Scientists are nonetheless unsure how a rising tropopause will affect the climate or climate, though it may pressure planes to fly greater within the atmosphere to keep away from turbulence.

“The study captures two important ways that humans are changing the atmosphere,” Randel stated. “The height of the tropopause is being increasingly affected by emissions of greenhouse gases even as society has successfully stabilized conditions in the stratosphere by restricting ozone-destroying chemicals.”

Originally printed on Live Science.

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