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Global Warming at NASA: How Outerspace Teaches Us About Climate Change

By    |   Sunday, 23 November 2014 06:32 PM

Space exploration educates us about climate change by showing us what has happened on other planets and giving us a vantage point from which to study the global warming of the Earth.

After Congress in 1976 authorized NASA to carry out stratospheric ozone research, the space agency reported it sent probes to Venus and Mars, which were considered to be the most capable of supporting life.

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But NASA said it discovered Venus had experienced severe global warming after being “roasted by a super-charged greenhouse effect.”

Venus had about 300 times more carbon dioxide in its atmosphere than Earth, with no significant water vapor and a surface temperature hotter than molten lead, NASA reported.

Mars, on the other hand, had an atmospheric pressure about 1 percent of the Earth’s and temperatures were far below freezing, NASA reported. Its photos showed no surface water but seemed to indicate liquid water had once been present.

As planetary scientists began confronting questions about how the Earth, Venus and Mars turned out so dramatically different, cuts in funding during the late 1970s prompted NASA to focus on the less-expensive pursuit of studying the Earth, the space agency reported.

In the early 1980s, NASA began working on an expansive Earth science program plan.

NASA’s Earth science efforts also came to involve research into global warming, as it began providing data from space to a multi-agency effort formed in 1989 called the U.S. Global Change Research Program.

NASA indicated global warming refers specifically to the increase the Earth has seen in its average surface temperatures due to rising levels of greenhouse gases, while climate change is a long-term change of the climate of the Earth or one of its regions.

NASA administrator Charles Bolden wrote in a June 2013 blog post that 17 satellites involved with the agency's Earth science program were monitoring the Earth's atmosphere, oceans and climate from space.

“The data we collect helps us understand our planet as a dynamic, unified system. It helps us predict natural and manmade disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires and recover from them," he wrote. "Our satellites will play a critical role in helping us assess the carbon emissions problem, its history, current status, and possible future so decision makers can make informed policy decisions.”

NASA reported its space-based perspective has helped scientists discover that as temperatures have warmed over the past two decades, ice cover in the Arctic Ocean has been shrinking, as has ice cover on land.

“Satellite altimetry has made a major contribution to being able to measure and monitor recent changes in global circulation and has contributed valuable insight into the net upward trend in sea level that may threaten coastal regions in the future," NASA said.

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Space exploration educates us about climate change by showing us what has happened on other planets and giving us a vantage point from which to study the global warming of the Earth.
global warming, nasa, climate change
Sunday, 23 November 2014 06:32 PM
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