Large observatories based on the ground can be negatively impacted by climate change, as a new study led by Eric Steinbring, an astronomer at the Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Center of Canada, reveals. Specifically, the cumulative effects of higher atmospheric temperatures represent the factor that could hinder some astronomic tasks.
What happens is that atmospheric warming over long periods of time is decreasing the number of light photons that pass through the atmosphere, according to Forbes.
Studying stars and galaxies can become harder
As the number of photons emanating from stars and galaxies decreases, it becomes more difficult for these particles of light to pass through Earth’s atmosphere and be captured by optical telescopes on the ground. This can hinder the astronomers’ ability to observe and study these celestial objects and the phenomena they produce.
However, the idea of climate change negatively impacting scientific research, in general, is not new. For instance, let’s consider the changes in the distribution of species. As the climate changes, many species are shifting their ranges or going extinct. This can make it harder for researchers to study these species or the ecosystems they are a part of.
Another example is represented by changes when it comes to research priorities. As the impacts of climate change become more pressing, researchers may shift their focus to studying climate-related issues, potentially taking resources away from other areas of research.
Overall, climate change can present a number of challenges to scientific research, but we have to be aware that it also presents opportunities for researchers to study and understand the impacts of climate change and develop solutions to mitigate its effects.
A paper on the subject of climate change’s effects on astronomy is set to be published in Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (PASP).