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Greenhouse Gases are Shrinking the Layer of Earth’s Atmosphere

A new study has found evidence showing that human-created Greenhouse Gases have led to a shrinking stratosphere. The study was published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, the group describes analyzing data from satellites to create computer models.

The layer of the Earth’s atmosphere is a 20-to-60-kilometre atmospheric layer surrounding the earth above the troposphere, the layer that extends from the surface to approximately 20 kilometers. Previous researches show that the troposphere is growing thicker due to Greenhouse Gases, hinting at a shrinking stratosphere due to pressure from below as the troposphere expands upward driven by the increase in heat that is captured by carbon dioxide.

Researchers strived to learn more about the impact of emissions caused by Greenhouse Gases on the stratosphere. They obtained environmental data from satellites going back to the 1980s. They added the satellite data to a computer model that also took into account chemical interactions that occur in the atmosphere. They also factored in the impact of the ozone layer.

The models showed that as the troposphere has been expanding, it has been pushing upward on the stratosphere. They also found that as carbon dioxide made its way into the stratosphere, it has had a cooling effect, resulting in a contracting force. The researchers found the net result was a thinning stratosphere. Their estimations showed that the stratosphere has thinned by 400 meters since the 1980s, which translates to approximately 1% of its thickness.

The stratosphere will continue thinning as long as greenhouse gasses are emitted into the atmosphere. as much as a kilometre in just 60 years. The researchers note on the impact a shrinking stratosphere may have on the planet, but note that it could affect the trajectories of satellites and how radio waves propagate, which could eventually have an impact on the Global Positioning System.

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