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Earth could become hotter than thought

A new study has found that earth could become far hotter than currently projected because the scientific models used currently do not correctly account for the influence of clouds.

The findings of the study conducted by researchers at Yale University and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory were published in detail in the journal Science.

"We found that the climate sensitivity increased from four degrees Celsius in the default model to five to 5.3 degrees Celsius in versions that were modified to bring liquid and ice amounts into closer agreement with observations," said lead author Ivy Tan, a researcher at Yale University.

"Most climate models are a little too eager to glaciate below freezing, so they are likely exaggerating the increase in cloud reflectivity as the atmosphere warms," said co-author Mark Zelinka.

"This means they may be systematically underestimating how much warming will occur in response to carbon dioxide."

According to researchers, the study adds to previous studies that have suggested clouds may make warming worse. "The evidence is piling up against an overall stabilizing cloud feedback," said Zelinka.

"Clouds do not seem to want to do us any favors when it comes to limiting global warming."

The study was funded by NASA and the Department of Energy's Office of Science.