The use of satellites to monitor environmental changes has become greater than ever before, with various teams now being able to look back in time and detect trends based on historical values. We know that increase in concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can be considered as the primary indicator for climate change, but a new study by UK scientists shows that fluctuations in sea-surface temperatures can be just as effective in describing and predicting future trends.
During the Climate Change Initiative’s (CCI) Collection Meeting held at the European Space Agency’s Center in Frascati, Italy, the team led by the science leader for CCI, Chris Merchant, showed that thanks to satellite measurements, a clear trend in sea-surface temperature changes can be established. Although the results of their analysis show that in the past 15 years the fluctuations have not been as extreme as back in the 1970s, it is all because of the ability of oceans to store heat at depth, and not because of the end of global warming.
Interestingly, the minimal increase in sea-surface temperature that the scientists observed does not correlate with the rapid raise in carbon dioxide concentrations. The team insists that due to incomplete record of temperatures below 700m, they cannot be entirely certain, but do believe that the warming effect will soon reemerge.
The team is now busy with applying the new methods that they developed on historical data, and believe that they would be able to show exactly how sea-surface temperatures have changed in the past. Although the oldest satellite data they have was collected in 1991 using the ERS-1 satellite, the record they have gathered since then is sufficient to get a complete overview. The researchers are convinced that with the upcoming mission of ESA, Santinel-3, the observations of sea-surface temperature will provide yet another indicator for how our climate is changing.
Image (c) Hartmann, D.L., et al.