When you look up at the Earth’s blue sky, you expect to see a fair balance of puffy white clouds filling the voids. But could you even imagine what the world would be like if we didn’t have those clouds in our skies anymore? Let us give you a hint – it’s not particularly good.
An unfortunate consequence of increased atmospheric carbon is the loss of clouds in our skies, and this would only further exacerbate the planet’s warming climate. In fact, if the Earth lost all or most of its clouds, it could add 8 degrees to the projected global temperature rise.
Clouds provide a vital barrier between the Sun and the Earth’s surface, offering shade and rainfall that cools the planet’s temperatures. Without those clouds, there’d be nothing to keep the Earth from warming up, and scientists think that we’d see circumstances akin to what transpired around 56 million years ago during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum.
For this to happen, it’s estimated that Earth’s atmospheric carbon would need to reach 1,200 parts per million (PPM), and we’re currently sitting at 400 PPM. With atmospheric carbon rising as fast as it is today, it would only take a few more decades to reach that number unless we did something to reduce our carbon footprint.
Admittedly, much of the research that led to this finding was performed in one particular region of the world, and other areas could be impacted differently. Moreover, all the results come by way of computer simulations rather than real life, and so there’s undoubtedly wiggle room for interpretation. Regardless, it looks like it’d be a smart idea to limit our carbon emissions, especially if you appreciate Earth's cloudcover.