A new study shows that climate change has caused the earth’s atmosphere and oceans to expand, and this could impact the global health.

According to the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the atmospheric layer at its lowest point, the troposphere (or the low level), has increased by approximately 174 feet each decade, between 2001 and 2020.

Although it is not yet clear how an increasing tropopause could impact planet’s climate and weather, Live Science says that planes may fly higher in order to avoid turbulence. 

According to a statement the expansion of troposphere depends on warming temperatures. This is why it is so important.

Climate change is causing the Earth's atmosphere to swell, a new study finds

A new study has found that climate change is making the Earth’s atmosphere swell.

The upper region of the troposphere, known as the tropopause, gets smaller and larger based on temperatures and seasons

Based on temperature and season, the upper troposphere region, also known as the Tropopause, becomes smaller. 

The troposphere has inflated roughly 174 feet per decade between 2001-2020. Between 1980 and 2000, the expansion was 164 feet per decade

Between 2001 and 2020, the troposphere grew by averaging 174 feet each decade. Intensification was approximately 164 feet every decade between 1980-2000

The release said that this was an unambiguous indication of changing atmospheric structure. Bill Randel, co-author and scientist at Boulder’s National Center for Atmospheric Research, wrote the statement. 

“These results, together with other evidence of climate changes, provide independent confirmation that greenhouse gasses are altering the atmosphere.”

To arrive at their conclusions, the researchers looked at weather balloon data in the Northern Hemisphere over the last 40 years. 

The Tropopause is the lower region of the troposphere that shrinks with increasing temperatures.

As temperatures rise due to increased greenhouse gas emissions, there is more heat trapped in the atmosphere, and the troposphere expands.

It is happening faster than ever before. In the decade 1980-2000, expansion averaged 164 feet.

The troposphere is important, given that it extends from sea level to 'about 5 miles above Earth's surface at the poles to 10 miles at the equator

Because it extends approximately 5 to 10 miles from the surface of Earth at the poles, the troposphere is vital.

There were a couple of natural events in the 1980s and the large El Niño effect of 1997 and 1998 that caused a ‘global warming hiatus,’ but human activity is responsible for 80 percent of the increase in the atmosphere.

Researchers note that the stratosphere is losing its ozone, as a consequence of climate change. 

Randel explained that Randel’s study captured two crucial ways humans have been changing the atmosphere. 

“The rise of the tropopause is affected more by the emissions of greenhouse gases, even though societies have successfully stabilized conditions in the stratosphere through the limitation of ozone-destroying chemical.”

In November, a separate study suggested that Earth’s ‘vital signs’ have taken a turn for the worse, as greenhouse gas emissions, particularly methane, continue to rise.

Science Advances has published this study in its earlier issue.  

Greenhouse gas emissions, particularly methane (pictured in orange), are continuing to rise

The greenhouse gas emissions of methane, especially (pictured in orange), continue to rise.

At this point, it's unclear how a rising tropopause will impact the planet's climate or weather, but it could result in planes flying higher to avoid turbulence

Although it is not yet clear how an increasing tropopause could impact planet’s climate and weather, there are some possibilities that planes will fly higher to avoid any turbulence.

The researchers analyzed weather balloon measurements in the Northern Hemisphere from the past 40 years

Researchers analyzed meteorological data from the Northern Hemisphere over the last 40 years.


Paris Agreement was signed for the first time in 2015. It is an international agreement that aims to limit and control climate change.

It hopes to hold the increase in the global average temperature to below 2°C (3.6ºF) ‘and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C (2.7°F)’.

It seems the more ambitious goal of restricting global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F) may be more important than ever, according to previous research which claims 25 per cent of the world could see a significant increase in drier conditions. 

There are four major goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

1)  A long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels

2) To aim to limit the increase to 1.5°C, since this would significantly reduce risks and the impacts of climate change

(3) Governments agreed that the global emission levels must be at their peak as quickly as possible. They also acknowledged that it will take more time for countries in developing nations to reach this goal.

4) Then, to make rapid reductions in line with current science.

Source: European Commission