According to a new NASA study, the Arctic is warming faster than it was thought previously.
NASA experts using satellite analysis to confirm air temperatures documented from 2003 to 2017 across the globe found widespread similarities to past measurements when they compared the new, satellite-based results to temperatures previously produced in research stations.
The study confirmed findings that 2016, 2017 and 2015 were the warmest years on record, in that order.
But the research, set to be published Wednesday in the journal Environmental Research Letters, also found an important difference in the results: Arctic temperatures produced by the satellite system were higher than those documented at weather stations and ocean buoys.
“It means we may have been underestimating Arctic changes,” study co-author Gavin Schmidt says. “We have massive warming that’s going on there.”
The results show that relying on land and ocean surface temperatures isn’t enough to gain the whole picture, according to Schmidt, the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
Brenda Ekwurzel, the director of climate science at the Union of Concerned Scientists, who was not involved in the research, says it details an exciting method to more accurately capture global temperatures.
Research stations in the Arctic where measurements are taken can be very far apart, she says.
“We’ve always had questions about the polar data and the widespread uncertainties up there,” Ekwurzel says.
Schmidt says researchers wanted to produce an independent way of checking previous calculations to help combat the criticism that global warming estimates face. But for some climate change deniers, no amount of data will be enough, he says.
Despite the fact that President Donald Trump has challenged the science behind and the implications of climate change, federal agencies like NASA continue to produce rigorously reviewed research, Ekwurzel says.
“The scientific process is robust and ongoing no matter who is in political office,” she says.
However scientists are expecting they would not be lonely in tackling climate change process and they are calling up politicians for actions.