(ORDO NEWS) — Human actions are not just warming the Earth, they are throwing the planet’s climate into complete chaos, according to a new study by scientists from Portugal.
The work of the Faculty of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Porto describes how the use of fossil fuels and other human activities will affect the overall picture of life on the Earth of the future. The presented forecast cannot be called joyful, citing the words of the scientist Orfeu Bertolami involved in the study.
The Earth periodically experiences massive changes in climate patterns, moving from one stable equilibrium to another. These shifts are usually caused by external factors such as a change in the Earth’s orbit or a massive burst of volcanic activity.
Past research has shown that we are now entering a new phase that is driven by human activity. As humans release more and more carbon into the atmosphere, we are entering a new era of the Anthropocene – the period of the human-influenced climate system – that our planet has never experienced before.
In the new study, the scientists modeled the introduction of the Anthropocene as a phase transition. Most people are familiar with phase transitions in materials, such as when an ice cube changes from solid to liquid by dissolving in water, or when water evaporates into a gas.
But phase transitions also occur in other systems. In this case, the system is the Earth’s climate. Now it has a predictable and regular division into the seasons of the year, and the phase transition in the climate will lead to a new character of these seasons and the weather in general.
When the climate goes through a phase transition, it means that there are sudden and very rapid changes in weather patterns on Earth.
At best, when humanity reaches the carbon production limit, the Earth’s climate will stabilize at a new, higher average temperature. It will continue to cause sea level rise and extreme weather events, but at least it can be called stable.
In the worst case, Earth’s climate will turn into chaos. A chaotic climate will also have seasons, but they will change dramatically from decade to decade (or even year to year). Earth’s average temperature will fluctuate greatly, going from cooler to hotter periods in relatively short periods of time.
“In a chaotic world, it will become impossible to predict the behavior of various systems on the Earth of the future, even if we are familiar with the current state of the planet,” Bertolami specifies. “This means that any ability to control and bring the Earth into equilibrium, which contributes to the habitability of the biosphere, will be lost.”
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