Here's How Scarily Accurate NASA's Long-Term Climate Predictions Have Been So Far

There are a handful of major science institutions around the world that keep track of the Earth's temperature. They all clearly show that the world's temperature has risen in the past few decades. One of those institutions is NASA.

NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Science Studies (GISS) is located in New York City. Recently, they did a complete assessment of their temperature data, called GISTEMP, or GISS surface Temperature Analysis.

The GISTEMP is one of our most direct benchmarks for tracking the Earth's temperature. It goes back over 100 years, to the 1880s.

Every year, NASA partners with the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) to update the global temperature. They use temperature data dating back to 1880 from land and sea surface measurements, combined with more modern measurements from over 6,300 weather stations research stations, and ships and weather buoys around the world.

Using all this data, the pair of organizations concluded that 2018 was the fourth-warmest year on record, and that 2016 was the warmest.

In this new study, NASA scientists analyzed the GISTEMP data to see if past predictions of rising temperatures were accurate. They needed to know that any uncertainty within their data was correctly accounted for.

The goal was to make sure that the models they use are robust enough to rely on in the future. The answer: Yes they are. Within 1/20th a degree Celsius. Kudos.

"Uncertainty is important to understand because we know that in the real world we don't know everything perfectly," said Gavin Schmidt, director of GISS and a co-author on the study.

"All science is based on knowing the limitations of the numbers that you come up with, and those uncertainties can determine whether what you're seeing is a shift or a change that is actually important."

This is scientific rigour at its finest. To a climate change denier, it may seem like ammo. But the reverse is true. NASA is determined to understand their GISTEMP data to the best of their capability, and they acknowledge, like all scientists should, any weakness in their own data and then seek to quantify it.

The NASA analysis ferreted out four sources of uncertainty, however miniscule, in the GISTEMP data.

The first is how temperature measurement changed over time, and it contributes the most uncertainty. Second was weather station coverage. You can't have a weather station at every point on Earth, so you have to interpolate the data. That interpolation is the third largest source of uncertainty, though it's contribution to uncertainty was tiny.


  1. Every day a latest news comes from NASA. That create fear for people and warning. Earth temperature increasing very fast day by day. Pollution is the main cause. It is very dangerous for upcoming generation. More tree plantation can reduce the rising temperature. Please share more American news


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