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Global Warming: NASA's Work on Greenhouse Effect Got Climate Change Ball Rolling

Image: Global Warming: NASA's Work on Greenhouse Effect Got Climate Change Ball Rolling
Climatologist Dr James Hansen, and Director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, poses for pictures beside a mock grave reading 'Climate Change, a Matter Of Life Or Death' during a photo call in Coventry, in central England, on March 19, 2009. (Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 08 Dec 2014 08:06 PM

NASA is credited with bringing the issue of global warming to the forefront. In 1988, the head of NASA's Earth science division, the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, presented research findings on the greenhouse effect to Congress and his conclusions got the climate change ball rolling.

The Goddard Institute for Space Studies was established by NASA in 1961 and in the early years, research was focused on "the structure of Earth, Moon, and other planetary bodies; the atmospheres of Earth and the other planets; the origin and evolution of the solar system; the properties of interplanetary plasma; Sun-Earth relations; and the structure and evolution of stars."

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However, after Dr. James E. Hansen took the helm in 1981, NASA's research focus shifted towards issues of "global change" in the environment, which included global warming as it relates to climate change. 

Dr. Hansen's research into the greenhouse effect emboldened other climate scientists who, according to The New York Times, had been "cautious about attributing rising global temperatures of recent years to the predicted global warming caused by pollutants in the atmosphere." 

Dr. Hansen's congressional testimony in 1988 on NASA's research findings also caused Congress to sit up and pay attention. In response to the findings, Sen. Timothy E. Wirth said, ''As I read it, the scientific evidence is compelling: the global climate is changing as the earth's atmosphere gets warmer. Now, the Congress must begin to consider how we are going to slow or halt that warming trend and how we are going to cope with the changes that may already be inevitable.'' 

The results of the global warming research conducted by Dr. Hansen and his NASA colleagues included statements that the Earth was warmer in 1988 than had previously been recorded, that global warming had a "cause and effect relationship to the greenhouse effect," and that global warming increased the "probability of extreme events such as summer heat waves." 

Although Dr. James Hansen retired from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies after spending decades researching global warming, NASA's work on climate change continues to be a major influence on the science of global warming. Although NASA is credited with getting the climate change ball rolling, other agencies have become major forces on the playing field including the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which also subscribes to the science of anthropogenic global warming and its dire impact on the earth's atmosphere. 

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In 1988, NASA's Earth science division, the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, presented research findings on the greenhouse effect to Congress and his conclusions got the climate change ball rolling.
global, warming, at, NASA, climate, change
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2014-06-08
Monday, 08 Dec 2014 08:06 PM
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