The Earth has changed over the last several hundred years, but here's one change that might've eluded scientists if not for the right technology at play. 

Earth art
(Photo : Getty Images )

According to a study published in Geophysical Research Letters, the Earth has lost a bit of its brightness (aka Earthshine) over the last two decades, reported CNET.

The scientists came to this conclusion after analyzing data collected by the Big Bear Solar Observatory in California from 1998 to 2017. 

Looking at a total of 1,500 nights' worth of data, the researchers noticed that the amount of light that the Earth reflects has decreased by 0.5% since the late 90s. 

This earthshine, called albedo, is the main reason why people can see the moon's dark side during its so-called "waxing phase."

On a normal day, the Earth reflects around 30% of all sunlight it receives. 

But since there's an observable drop in the albedo, the researchers tried looking for possible reasons.

Initially, they thought it was because the sun itself was dimming. But since this drop in earthshine didn't seem to be related to the sun's brightness, something else on Earth might have caused it. 

According to the scientists, the most likely culprit is ocean warming, which is closely related to climate change as a whole. As reported by ScienceDaily, the drop in Earth's brightness has been caused by a decrease of bright, reflective clouds over the eastern part of the Pacific Ocean.  

The Earth has been feeling the effects of climate change largely caused by human activity.

Aside from dimming earthshine, the various signs have often indicated that climate change will be bad enough to cause the end of human civilization by 2050

Read also: NASA's Tracking of Asteroid Bennu Could Help Protect Earth From A Potential Future Impact

Earth Is Dimming, But How Did They Know About It? 

You might be asking, how in the world did these scientists detect that the Earth has dimmed?

There's one good answer: CERES. 

Specifically, that's the Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System Project of NASA. This project keeps a close eye on the planet using five satellites that measure the Earth's overall reflectiveness.

According to the official CERES website at NASA, the CERES project observes the Earth's climate to produce a comprehensive global climate record. Its instruments collect data that proved to be critical in the detection of the drop in earthshine. 

After the researchers compared their data to the CERES project's findings, they came to the suggestion that a reduction in low-lying clouds above the eastern Pacific Ocean could've caused the Earth's brightness to drop.

Furthermore, the reductions in cloud cover could've also been the result of increased ocean surface temperatures, which have obvious connections to the climate crisis. 

The NASA CERES project is proving its importance in the fight against the climate crisis with this news. But it's far from the only one.

Currently, the agency is working on implementing the Earth System Observatory, which they hope could yield excellent data that will complement efforts to battle climate change. 

Related: NASA x ESA: Two Space Agencies Collaborate to Combat Climate Change

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Written by RJ Pierce

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