In a warming climate, cloud patterns are changing in ways that amplify global warming. A team of researchers led by Professor Johannes Quaas from Leipzig University and Hao Luo and Professor Yong Han from Sun Yat-sen University in China have discovered increasingly asymmetric changes in cloud cover—cloud cover decreases more during the day than at night, Report informs referring to

This asymmetry means that the cooling effect of clouds is decreasing during the day and their warming effect is increasing at night, adding to global warming. The researchers have published their new findings in the journal Science Advances.

During the day, clouds reflect sunlight back into space, cooling the Earth’s surface. At night, on the other hand, they act like a blanket, trapping in the heat. This keeps the surface of the Earth warm. “This is why clouds play a decisive role in the Earth’s climate,” says meteorologist Quaas.

In their study, the scientists used satellite observations and data from the sixth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6), which provides comprehensive climate models and scenarios. These models cover historical data from 1970 to 2014 and projections up to the year 2100.

“As cloud cover decreases more during the day than at night on a global scale, this leads to a decrease in the short-wave albedo effect during the day and an increase in the long-wave greenhouse effect at night,” explains Hao Luo, lead author of the study.