Research and Application News
A scientist's final paper looks toward Earth's future climate
16 July 2018
A NASA scientist's final scientific paper, published posthumously this month, reveals new insights into one of the most complex challenges of Earth's climate: understanding and predicting future atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases and the role of the ocean and land in determining those levels.
A paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences was led by Piers J. Sellers, former director of the Earth Sciences Division at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, who died in December 2016. Sellers was an Earth scientist at NASA Goddard and later an astronaut who flew on three space shuttle missions.
The paper includes a significant overarching message: The current international fleet of satellites is making real improvements in accurately measuring greenhouse gases from space, but in the future a more sophisticated system of observations will be necessary to understand and predict Earth's changing climate at the level of accuracy needed by society.
Image credit: NASA - From space, satellites can see Earth breathe. A new NASA visualization shows 20 years of continuous observations of plant life on land and at the ocean's surface, from September 1997 to September. 2017