Like thermometers in space, satellites are taking the temperature of the Earths surface or skin. According to scientists, the satellite data confirm the Earth has had an increasing "fever" for decades.
Global land surface temperature, July 2003
This image shows land surface temperature for the entire month of July 2003, one of the warmest months on record throughout much of Europe. This image was derived using data from NASAs Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor. Credit: NASA
July Temperatures 1982-1998
This map shows averaged land surface temperature for the month of July from the years 1982 through 1998. The image was derived using data from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Associations (NOAA) Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer sensor. Temperatures are in degrees Kelvin. Credit: NASA/NOAA
For the first time, satellites have been used to develop an 18- year record (1981-1998) of global land surface temperatures. The record provides additional proof that Earths snow-free land surfaces have, on average, warmed during this time period, according to a NASA study appearing in the March issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. The satellite record is more detailed and comprehensive than previously available ground measurements. The satellite data will be necessary to improve climate analyses and computer modeling.
Menglin Jin, the lead author, is a visiting scientist at NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., and a researcher with the University of Maryland, College Park, Md. Jin commented until now global land surface temperatures used in climate change studies were derived from thousands of on-the- ground World Meteorological Organization (WMO) stations located around the world, a relatively sparse set of readings given Earths size. These stations actually measure surface air temperature at two to three meters above land, instead of skin temperatures. The satellite skin temperature dataset is a good complement to the traditional ways of measuring temperatures.
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