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Sky actually falling, report scientists

Chicken Little is known for fluttering around in a panic because she believed, on scant evidence, that the sky was falling.  Now it turns out that she may have been right.  Scientists at the University of Auckland in New Zealand have announced the results of their analysis of 10 years’ worth of multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer data from NASA’s Terra spacecraft, which watches Earth’s clouds.  After looking at the cloud-top height measurements from the years 2000 to 2010, the scientists found that over the decade global average cloud height fell by about 1%, or between 100-130 feet (30-40 meters).  Most of the decrease came from fewer clouds forming at very high altitudes.  Lower clouds should allow Earth to cool more efficiently, which might offset some of the warming caused by greenhouse gases.  However, the scientists’ data, like Chicken Little’s, is not conclusive.  Luckily, the Terra saellite is due to orbit for the rest of this decade, collecting data which wll help determine whether the lowered clouds are a consistent trend or a passing phenomenon.


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