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Human-Induced planet-warming: Earth Energy Imbalance

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: DTE

 Context: A new study (published in the journal Earth System Science Data) warns that human-induced climate change is affecting Earth’s energy balance.


What does the study say? 

Over the last 50 years, about 89% of the accumulated heat is stored in the ocean, 6% on land, a per cent in the atmosphere, and about 4% available for melting the cryosphere.


Impact of this increasing heat absorption:

Earth System ComponentsImpact of Increasing Heat Absorption
LandIncreased ground surface temperaturesà Trigger decomposition of soil organic matter and plant litter by soil microbesà will release carbon dioxide in the process. Higher soil respiration can decrease soil water.
Water BodiesHeat storage within inland water bodies à An increase in lake water temperaturesàMaking conditions ripe for algal blooms
TroposphereThe lower atmosphere, also known as the troposphere, is warming up due to increased heat accumulation, especially in the upper troposphere in the tropicsà Changes in the Earth’s climate, circulation and weather patterns.
CryosphereIncreased heat uptake à Melting of grounded and floating iceà  less albedo effect à Contribute significantly to the overall cryosphere heat gain


What is Earth’s Energy Imbalance?

It refers to the difference between the amount of energy that the Earth receives from the Sun and the amount of energy that it radiates back to space.

  • Positive EEI: When this imbalance is positive, it means that more energy is entering the Earth’s system than is leaving it, which leads to a warming planet.
  • Significance: EEI is an important indicator of climate change and provides an estimate of how much and how fast the Earth’s climate is warming.