Enlarge (credit: ESA)
Satellites seem like an obvious technological solution to the considerable challenge of tracking changes in Earth’s climate.
But Earth-observing ain’t easy.
A single instrument can zoom over the locations of thousands of stationary thermometers—but that puts thousands of eggs in one instrumental basket. Measuring temperatures from space takes a lot more than some mercury in a tube, and you can’t fix your instrument if something goes wrong.
Illustrating that fact is a new update to one of the major satellite temperature datasets, which ends up changing the recent part of the record in a subtle but significant way.
As we’ve explained before, satellite measurements of atmospheric temperature are actually more dependent on adjustments than measurements done using weather stations or ships.
The datasets are based on measurements of microwave radiation on a series of relatively short-lived satellite instruments going back to 1978.
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