Physicists predict that the Earth could soon become a chaotic world

The new study, published in the arXiv database on April 21, provides an overview of the full impact that human activity can have on the climate, an unpleasant and disturbing picture.

Although the study does not show a complete simulation of a climate model, it does provide an overview of where we are going if we do not change the current trajectory of climate change and fossil fuel use, according to the study’s authors. , Scientists from the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Porto in Portugal.

“The effects of climate change are well known (droughts, heat waves, extreme events …),” said researcher Orfeu Bertolami. “If the Earth System enters the region of chaotic behavior, we can have full hope of solving the problem somehow.”

Earth’s climate change

The Earth regularly undergoes major changes in its weather patterns, moving from one point of equilibrium to another. These changes are usually caused by external factors, such as changes in the Earth’s orbit or a massive increase in volcanic activity.

However, previous research suggests that we are now entering a new phase, driven by human activities. As humans emit more carbon into the atmosphere, we are creating a new era, the Anthropocene, the time when the climate system affected humans, the time when the planet never lived.

In the new study, researchers modeled the introduction of the Anthropocene as a new transition phase. Like the transition phases of a material, moving from one state to another, such as liquid to gas, other systems can go through the transition phases, in this case, the Earth’s climate system.

A certain point of balance in the dry climate creates predictable seasons and climates all over the planet, while a transitional phase creates a new pattern in these seasons and climates. When the Earth’s climate undergoes a transitional phase, it means that the Earth is undergoing a sudden and rapid change in its weather patterns.

Climate change is taking hurricanes to the extreme. In 2018, Hurricane Michael (pictured in this digitally enhanced image) became the first Category 5 hurricane to hit Florida, USA. Image: Roberto Machado Noa / Getty Images

Logistics of order and chaos in the Earth’s climate

If human activity brings about a transitional phase in the Earth’s climate, it means that we are developing a new model of weather on the planet. And determining what these patterns are is one of the biggest problems in climate science.

Where does the Earth’s climate go? This depends significantly on the activity we have in the coming decades. Scientists used a mathematical tool called a logistic map to study the question, where they use variables that can be grown to a certain limit by measuring their effects.

Our impact on the environment is growing, something that has been going on for more than a century. But that will have a limit, according to researchers, such as human population growth, or the maximum level of carbon emission activities. At some point, future carbon emissions will reach a threshold, and researchers have found a logistical map that can track the future trajectory of that emission.

This logistical map looked at different ways to evolve, looking at variables such as human population, carbon reduction strategies, and better and more efficient technologies.

When they discovered how the human carbon footprint could have evolved over time, they used the information they used to study how the Earth’s climate would evolve through this phase of transition caused by our species.

At best, when humanity reaches that limit of carbon emissions, the climate would stabilize at a new temperature, which would be higher, but still stable. This high temperature is generally bad for the human species because it raises the sea level, as well as extreme weather events.

Drought due to climate change
Drought due to climate change.

But at least it’s stable: the Anthropocene would look like other climatic seasons that came before it, just warmer, and it would have regular, predictable weather patterns.

In the worst case, the researchers found that the Earth’s climate is in a state of chaos, as well as mathematical chaos. In this chaotic system, there is no balance, no pattern of prediction.

A chaotic climate would have seasons that would change rapidly for decades (or years). It would be impossible to determine the direction of the planet’s climate.

“The chaotic behavior means that it will be impossible to predict the behavior of the Earth System in the future, even if we are completely sure of its current state,” Bertolami said. “It means that we will lose any ability to control the Earth’s system and bring the biosphere into a state of equilibrium.”

Even more troubling is the fact that researchers have found that a critical point in the Earth’s temperature has passed a cycle. opinion it can start, making the chaotic outcome inevitable.

There are signs that this point has been exceeded, but it is not too late to avoid a complete catastrophe.

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