At the rate it’s currently heating up, Earth is set to warm a full 4 degrees Celsius by 2100: a temperature at the far end of most predictions that’s likely to be catastrophic, researchers in Australia say.
We have clouds to thank for the revised prediction, which comes from a new study published in the journal Nature. According to the researchers, climate change will lead to the formation of fewer clouds, meaning less sunlight will be reflected back into space and thus setting off a vicious cycle that will further drive warming.
Our current goal, to limit warming to just 2 degrees Celsius, is much too high to avoid the disastrous impact of climate change, scientists first warned in December. If greenhouse gas emissions aren’t reduced, this new study adds, we’re on pace to double that. The effect, lead author Steven Sherwood told the Guardian, “would likely be catastrophic rather than simply dangerous”: