Environment

Unabated Carbon Is Shrinking Earth’s Upper Atmosphere

Rising levels of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere could exacerbate efforts to clean up our increasingly cluttered shell of orbiting space junk.

According to two new studies, the greenhouse gas has significantly contributed to the contraction of the upper atmosphere. This contraction has been hypothesized for decades; now, for the first time, it’s been actually observed. Some of the observed shrinkage is normal, and will bounce back; but the contribution made by CO2 is, scientists say, probably permanent.

This means that defunct satellites and other bits of old technology in low Earth orbit is likely to remain in place longer due to the reduction of atmospheric drag, cluttering up the region and causing problems for newer satellites and space observations.

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