Researchers from New Zealand’s University of Auckland analyzed observations from NASA’s Terra satellite between March 2000 and February 2010, finding that average cloud height declined by about 100 to 130 feet.
Writing in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, the team said most of the lowering was due to fewer clouds occurring at very high altitudes during the period.
Lead researcher Roger Davies cautioned that the 10-year study was far too brief to prove a definite trend. But he says it does seem to indicate something significant is going on in the world of clouds.
The study concludes that a further reduction in cloud height would allow the planet to radiate heat into space more efficiently, possibly slowing the effects of global warming.
Davies theorizes that this might represent a “negative feedback” process in which the planet is attempting to counteract the effects of climate change.