Since NASA first began its scientific research into the greenhouse effect and its relationship to global warming, the space agency has learned a great deal about climate change. NASA has become a significant source of information for the climate change community and continues the narrative on global warming.
NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies
is part of the agency's Earth Science Division which studies "atmospheric and climate changes." GISS works with numerous universities and research organizations and believes that space observations are "crucial for monitoring global change and for providing data needed to develop an understanding of the Earth system."
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NASA is dedicated to sharing the wealth of information the space agency has learned about global warming. The agency not only provides basic data on the science of global warming but also provides in-depth current coverage of lesser known topics. For example, in 2014, GISS featured an article from Astrobiology Magazine
on how "Climate Conditions Help Forecast Meningitis Outbreaks." GISS also recently provided research news on how global warming related extremes in weather may "pose hazards to the NASA infrastructure."
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NASA's interactive site, Global Climate Change Vital Signs of the Planet is also a resource for information on global warming and includes the following facts:
1. Since the industrial revolution, concentrations of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O) have risen in the atmosphere. Burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas has increased the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) from 280 parts per million to 393 parts per million. These greenhouse gases absorb and then re-radiate heat in Earth’s atmosphere, which causes increased warming.
2. Very small airborne particles come from both human and natural sources and have various effects on climate. Sulfate aerosols, which result from burning coal, biomass, and volcanic eruptions, tend to cool the Earth. Other kinds of particles such as black carbon have a warming effect.
3. There is some evidence that the ability of the oceans or forests to continue absorbing carbon dioxide may decline as the world warms, leading to faster accumulation in the atmosphere.
4. Ice is white and very reflective, in contrast to the ocean surface, which is dark and absorbs heat faster. As the atmosphere warms and sea ice melts, the darker ocean absorbs more heat, causes more ice to melt, and makes the Earth warmer overall.
5. Deposits of frozen methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and carbon dioxide lie beneath permafrost in Arctic regions. About a quarter of the Northern hemisphere is covered by permafrost. As the environment warms and the permafrost thaws, theses deposits can be released into the atmosphere and present a risk of runaway warming.
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