Don’t blame clouds for climate change

TEXAS A&M (US) — Clouds are not the root cause of climate change, but only amplify global warming brought on by human activity, according to a new study.

Decades of data support the mainstream and long-held view that clouds are primarily acting as feedback, says Andrew Dessler, professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University.

Dessler studied El Niño and La Niña cycles over the past 10 years and calculated the Earth’s energy budget over this time. His results are published in Geophysical Research Letters.


El Nino and La Nina are cyclical events, occurring roughly every five years, when waters in the central Pacific Ocean tend to get warmer or colder. These changes have a significant impact on much of the world’s weather systems for months or even years.

Dessler found that clouds played a very small role in initiating these climate variations—in agreement with mainstream climate science and in direct opposition to some previous claims.

“The bottom line is that clouds have not replaced humans as the cause of the recent warming the Earth is experiencing,” he says.

Texas is currently in one of the worst droughts in the state’s history, and most scientists believe it is a direct result of La Niña conditions that have lingered in the Pacific Ocean for many months, Dessler says.

“Over a century, however, clouds can indeed play an important role amplifying climate change. I hope my analysis puts an end to this claim that clouds are causing climate change.”

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