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While scientists have long agreed that human activity was the biggest driver of climate change, there hasn’t yet been evidence from direct observation (the gold standard of scientific research) until now.
NASA has completed the first study of its kind, which has calculated the recent causes of climate change by directly observing satellite data. These observations are in line with what models have been suggesting for years: that the increase in greenhouse gases and other pollution in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels has been the biggest driver of climate change.
Why This Matters: While there has been other types of evidence to demonstrate anthropogenic climate change, this is the first time scientists have been able to track how humans are directly changing Earth’s energy balance on the global scale.
But NASA was able to calculate the changes in heat trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere by taking satellite observations and using a “radiative kernel” to analyze them, which allowed the researchers to understand what factors influenced the emission and trapping of heat. Before, satellite observations of heat on Earth could only find the number of total radiation changes, rather than the individual components.
Though these results are not surprising, Brian Soden, co-author of the study and professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, summed up the importance of the study in an interview with CBS:
“In reality, the observational results came in just as predicted by the theory. There is no surprise in the results, but rather it’s really more of ‘dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s’ on anthropogenic [human-caused] climate change. It closes that last link between rising CO2 levels and planetary warming.”
This week is Climate Week NYC, an annual event hosted by The Climate Group and the United Nations, in partnership with the COP26 and the City of New York. For one week, from September 20-26, experts will be hosting panels and conversations about all things climate, and you can follow along at home via Facebook […]
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer A new study titled, Flying blind: The glaring absence of climate risks in financial reporting, from Carbon Tracker and the Climate Accounting Project (CAP) showed that 107 global businesses that work in high-emissions fields like oil and gas firms, construction, car manufacturers, and aviation businesses, have not been transparent […]
By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor New research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that without the world’s complex ecosystems and wildlife, human activity would have already pushed the global average temperature past 1.5 degrees Celsius. Findings from scientists working with Conservation International (CI) spotlight the role forests, oceans, and more […]
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