Over the years, scientists have discovered a wide variety of planets in the universe, but not Earth-like ones. But by studying far-flung exoplanets, researchers can better understand our own planet (and vice versa), so it’s no surprise that astronomers are heavily involved in studying Earth’s climate crisis . In these new studies, researchers investigated how climate change is affecting astronomy and how the region is connected to the growing global crisis.
“As astronomers, we are extremely fortunate to work in a fascinating field. Communicating inside and outside our community, with our unique perspectives on the universe, about the devastating consequences of anthropogenic climate change on our planet and in our society. We have a responsibility to do., ”Foustein Kentalobe, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) and lead author of the new study, said in a statement.
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For new research, an international team of astronomers banded together to investigate how climate change and astronomy interact – specifically, to see how astronomical observations would be affected by climate change. And how astronomy as a field contributes to the growing climate crisis.
Looking in the mirror
In two out of three papers, scientists assessed how astronomical research is affecting climate change.
To assess the carbon footprint of astronomical institutions, scientists at MPIA added their carbon dioxide Emission For one year (2018) and they found that they contributed about 18 tonnes of carbon dioxide per scientist for research activities. This is almost twice the average per capita emissions in Germany.
The most significant emissions they get from air travel to conferences or observatories, and from supercomputers that they use for simulations and to analyze data.
One study said that MPIA group leader Knud Jenke said, “We astronomers are responsible for our fossil fuel emissions. But scarcity is rarely a question of personal choice.”
“We need an analysis of where those emissions come from and then to find out whether we need to influence a major at the institution level, at the level of the entire astronomical community, or even at the level of society There is a need to take action, ”Jahnke said.
In these studies, researchers made several recommendations on how astronomical institutions such as the MPIA can reduce their emissions. For example, he suggested that air travel be reduced and supercomputers moved to places such as Iceland, where renewable-source electricity is available, and where low temperatures require less cooling.
On the note of reducing air travel, he also suggested that once-held meetings could be moved online – something that researchers around the world have used to begin with Coronavirus epidemic.
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Climate vs observation
Although astronomy research with these emissions has an impact on climate change, our changing climate is affecting the quality of astronomical observations, researchers found in one of three studies
In this third paper, researchers zeroed in on the Paranal Observatory of the European Southern Observatory in Chile, which is home to the Very Large Telescope (VLT). The average temperature of the observatory site has increased by 2.7 ° F (1.5 ° C) over the past four decades, exceeding the world-average increase of 1.8 F (1 C) since the pre-industrial era.
These rising temperatures can cause significant issues with telescope cooling, which the team found. For example, VLTs are cooled during the day to protect the dome’s internal systems from deterioration. But, when the sunset temperature exceeds 60.8 F (16 C), the cooling system cannot keep up and cool the device considerably. This can significantly blur comments.
Additionally, equipment installed in VLTs such as vapor content is highly sensitive to atmospheric properties. And, while Paranal is one of the driest places on our planet, some studies predict that, due to climate change, the amplitude of El Niño events will increase. This is a concern for this particular feature as it lies beneath a strong jet stream associated with such extreme weather events.
Researchers hope that these studies will help astronomers to consider how climate change may affect their work and, on the other side of the coin, how they can shift their research to contribute less to the climate crisis.
These three studies were published on 10 September in the journal Nature Astronomy.
Study 1 here.
Study 2 here.
Study 3 here.
Email Chelsea Gohad at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and Facebook.