Last year was the fourth warmest year on average for our planet since the late 1800s, according to NASA scientists.
2004- The Fourth Warmest Year in a Century: 2004 was the fourth warmest year around the world, since the late 1800s, according to NASA scientists. 1998, 2002 and 2003 were the only years warmer since the 1890s. This image is from the Clouds and the Earths Radiant Energy System (CERES), an instrument on 3 NASA satellites. It shows energy reflected back to space. The levels of reflected energy increase from blue to red to yellow. The yellow area shows a heatwave over California in May 2001. Credit: NASA GSFC/LARC and SVS
To determine if the Earth is warming or cooling, scientists look at average temperatures. To get an "average" temperature, scientists take the warmest and the coolest temperatures in a day, and calculate the temperature that is exactly in the middle of those high and low values. This provides an average temperature for a day. These average temperatures are then calculated for spots all over the Earth, over an entire year.
Scientists use temperatures taken on land and on surfaces of the oceans. Weather stations provide land measurements, and satellites provide sea surface temperature measurements over the ocean. These data are computed by NASA. The end result recreates and calculates global temperatures, and helps scientists study climate change. Makiko Sato of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), New York, converted all the data into readable global temperature maps that provided the means to see the warming.
Rob Gutro | EurekAlert!
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