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The Earth on high flame: NASA data shows record heating


NEW DELHI: India needs no weatherman to know that the earth is heating up. With a March that came as a burnt spring, and the hottest April in a century and a quarter bringing a national power crisis, the average Indian can feel it on the skin. But official confirmation comes from US space agency NASA: its annual satellite data shows the earth is heating up at an unprecedented rate.

The rate of global warming has tripled in the past 20 years, and the year just gone by was particularly bad.
A record of sorts was reached between March 2021 and Feb 2022, when NASA quantified that a lot of additional energy was sizzling around in the earth’s system — heating oceans, the land, the atmosphere, melting ice and getting the sea levels to swell.

According to scientists, the data shows that the earth is heating up at an unprecedented speed of 1.64 Watt per square meter (W/m²). That’s a good-sized jump from last year, when it was already equivalent to the heat generated by a million Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs every day.

The key variable on which this can be read is the Earth’s Energy Imbalance, the rate at which the world heats up. The Earth’s Energy Imbalance (EEI) record from Mar 21-Feb 22 clearly shows the additional energy in the Earth’s system.

Leon Simons, a climate researcher, says NASA’s CERES radiative flux data for 2021 had the annual EEI at 1.52 W/m² — or 1 million Hiroshimas. This year it stood at 1.64 W/m². To stabilize the climate, the EEI should fluctuate around 0 W/m² and to cool it needs to be negative on average.

The climate researcher says NASA’s CERES team had actually expected the rate of heat uptake to decrease, in a cyclical waning. But things went in another direction. Absorbed Solar Radiation (ASR) increased faster than Outgoing Longwave Radiation. ‘‘Higher greenhouse gas concentrations “limit the amount of heat that radiates to space,” Simons tweeted. 

Culprits? The usual suspects: burning of fossil fuels.

Heat going above desired level
NASA data shows Earth is heating at unprecedented speed: 1.64 W/m². That’s a lot of additional energy to heat oceans, land and atmosphere, melt ice and increase sea levels. 

Fossil fuels doing no good to Earth
Particles from the burning of fossil fuels, especially coal and heavy fuel oil by ships, reflect light and increase cloud cover and reflectivity, says a top scientist.