05/28/2021 at 9:03 AM CEST
By 2080 the Earth could have lost 4% of its stratosphere, which has been ‘thinning’ worryingly for decades due to emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. This can have serious consequences even for satellite communications, according to an international study in which the University of Vigo has participated.
The consequences of the indiscriminate emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere has a new victim: the stratosphere. During these decades the human being has shown its destructive potential, indifferent to the damage it was causing in the natural environment.
The stratosphere has been shrinking little by little, due in part to the pressure exerted by the troposphere from below and, on the other, to the action of carbon dioxide itself, which cools and constricts it.
In fact, the stratosphere has lost 400 meters since 1980 and scientists already warn that, if we continue on this path, you will lose 1.3 kilometers by 2080. This layer of the atmosphere is thinning at a worrying rate.
This situation has been described for the first time by a group of international researchers from eight research centers in five countries, including the University of Vigo, who claim that this situation is caused by the uncontrolled emission of greenhouse gases.
In other words, the emissions of, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), perfluorocarbons (PFC) and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), are breaking the fragile harmony of this atmospheric layer and it could soon affect human life, threatening their telecommunications system.
The stratosphere extends from about 20 kilometers to 60 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. Just below is the troposphere, which is where living things live and from which humans emit carbon dioxide.
High concentrations of CO2 are what allow this first layer to heat up and, therefore, expand the molecules that make up the air, pushing up the lower limit of the stratosphere.
But things don’t stop here, well when CO2 enters the stratosphere, it actually cools the air, helping it to contract as well. Finally, the stratosphere ends up reduced by several factors, among which is also the change in pressure due to high temperatures that affects the thermosphere and the mesosphere (above the stratosphere).
“The stratosphere of the planet contracts at a rate of 100 meters per decade due to CO2 emissions & rdquor ;, points out Juan Antonio Añel, researcher in atmospheric sciences at the University of Vigo, who indicates that “by 2080 we will have lost 4% of this layer of the atmosphere & rdquor ;.
Scientists already knew some of the consequences of continuous carbon dioxide emissions into our atmosphere. A few years ago they showed that the troposphere grew in height as carbon emissions increased and already at that time they decided to hypothesize that the stratosphere was shrinking.
However, this new study is the first to demonstrate this convincingly and shows that it has been contracting uniformly across the globe since the Industrial Revolution.
Satellites and GPS system in danger
Although the consequences are not yet determined or quantified, researchers already anticipate some of them. The situation “may affect the trajectories of satellites directly & rdquor ;, and indirectly it may also affect the density of ionospheric electrons, the propagation of radio waves and, “at some point, the performance of the global position system (GPS), as well as other navigation systems based on the & rdquor; space.
“These results show the extent to which we are altering our planet & rdquor ;, adds Añel, who warns that, apart from having implications on the transmission of radio signals, trajectories and satellite precision,” it may render useless efforts to reduce waste spatial & rdquor ;.
The results are also conclusive when it comes to disproving hypotheses that until now had been considered valid. And it is that, as they have discovered, the lack of ozone (O3) finally does not have the leading role that had been bestowed upon it thus far in the shrinking of the stratosphere.
“The lack of ozone, which was considered partly responsible for this, is not the culprit & rdquor ;, points out Añel, who also states that“ the contraction of the stratosphere will continue after ozone is recovered & rdquor;
Reference article: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/abfe2b
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