Researchers at the University of Exeter analyzed data on temperature changes around the world over several decades and found that there is an asymmetry in the warming of our planet as it rotates on its axis. At night, the Earth heats up faster than during the day.
This is reported by Science Alert.
In some parts of the planet, the days have become significantly warmer, while the night temperatures practically did not change. For some environments, there were even periods of significant cooling.
However, the overall picture surprised scientists. On more than half of the land surface, the average annual temperature rise at night was 25 ° C higher than during the day.
A fraction of a degree per year may seem tiny, but over time this increase in heat can add up to a significant environmental impact. “Species that are only active at night or during the day will be particularly affected,” says ecologist and lead author of the study, Daniel Cox.
To better understand environmental factors, the team also collected a number of data on other temperature-related climate variables: humidity and precipitation. Experts also compared regional differences in vegetation growth.
Combining everything into one picture, one can easily explain the imbalance in the heating of the planet – for example, an increase in cloudiness. Global warming traps more energy at the planet’s surface, storing moisture in the atmosphere, which then condenses into clouds. There is nothing secret here.
Clouds are better at reflecting certain ranges of light into space, or back to earth. During the day, this can help protect the surface from direct sunlight and lower temperatures slightly. Without this shading effect, we might expect the planet to roast. The reverse process occurs at night. Heat from the earth is hardly transferred to space, remaining at the surface.
Changes in temperature between day and night can have a profound effect on rainfall, which in turn determines how well the flora develops. But even with a general increase in rainfall density, additional cloudiness during the day can reduce the amount of light that plants need to photosynthesize.
“Warming asymmetries can have serious consequences for the natural world,” Cox says. “We show that more warming at night is associated with higher humidity to demonstrate that this has important implications for plant growth and species interaction.”
Much more research is needed to understand the full effects of daily temperature fluctuations and cloud formation. Clouds can be surprisingly complex, especially when you take into account greenhouse gases, the effects of dust levels, and even less Earth-related variables. The question of how much they will help or hinder our efforts to limit the rise in temperature is impossible.