New research published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters says that warming ocean waters have caused a drop in the brightness of the Earth.
Scientists behind the study think that the reflectivity findings centers around the dynamics of clouds over the Pacific Ocean. Clouds reflect about half the sunlight that hits them. But due to warming oceans, there are fewer bright clouds to reflect sunlight into the space. So, more and more energy enters the earth’s climate system.
According to the researchers, the Earth is now reflecting 0.5% or about half a watt less light per square meter than it was 20 years ago. They noted that most of this drop has occurred in the last three years of earthshine data.
Researchers used two decades of Earthshine measurements to come up with their conclusion
Earthshine is the light reflected from the Earth that illuminates the surface of the moon. They utilized Earthshine data along with satellite observations of Earth’s reflectivity, or albedo.
Scientists observed stark temperature increase at the ocean surface due to loss of bright low-altitude clouds over the Pacific Ocean. Since the light is not reflected in space, it’s trapped in the Earth’s climate system. This can also increase the pace of human-caused climate change.