Earth as Venus could have a hot future


The Earth could have a hot future in front of it like that of Venus: if the average temperature of its surface were to exceed 60 degrees, the greenhouse effect would become so strong as to trap all the heat emitted preventing even the smallest part from escaping to space. The study, published on Pnas by researchers of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), indicates, however, that for the moment the Earth is far from that limit.

Daniel Koll and Tim Cronin have constructed a mathematical model that imitates the Earth and its way of emitting heat into space, observing a linear relationship between the increase in surface temperature and the amount of radiated heat: "Imagine a window, through which a river of heat can flow into space, "explains Koll. "As the temperature increases the river flows faster and faster, but the window gets smaller - he adds - because the greenhouse effect traps a lot more radiation and prevents it from going out".


The two researchers at MIT have discovered that this linear relationship is interrupted when the average surface temperature of our planet exceeds 60 degrees: at that point the greenhouse effect becomes too strong, the oceans begin to boil and the Earth turns into a planet very similar to Venus. 


At the moment the temperature is around 12 degrees, so far from the calculated limit. Furthermore, a temperature increase of this magnitude could not be caused exclusively by global warming, but other climate changes should also occur, such as heating due to the natural evolution of the Sun.

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