The lower atmosphere has warmed 140% faster since 1979 than previously believed, according to a paper published last week in the Journal of Climate by researchers from Santa Rosa, California-based Remote Sensing Systems.
The paper corrects past data to account for decays in satellites’ orbits. Along the way, it answers one of the main methodological objections from climate deniers, who “have long claimed that satellite data shows global warming to be less pronounced than observational data collected on the Earth’s surface,” Carbon Brief reports. “The new data actually shows more warming than has been observed on the surface, though still slightly less than projected in most climate models.”
Although the biggest variance between old data and new occurs after 2000, the new record shows the lower atmosphere warming 36% faster since 1979. “While the old record showed relatively little warming during the oft-debated post-1998 ‘hiatus’ period, the new record shows warming continuing unabated through to present,” writes Carbon Brief U.S. Analyst Zeke Hausfather. While the previous record, known as RSS v3, “showed 2016 only barely edging out 1998 as the warmest year in the satellite record, the new v4 record shows 2016 as exceeding 1998 by a large margin.”
Hausfather traces some of the history of satellites’ role in measuring the progression of global warming, and goes deep in his explanation of the data revision.