2021 Tied for 6th Warmest Year in Continued Trend, NASA Analysis Shows

2021 was tied for the sixth warmest year on NASA’s record, stretching more than a century. Because the record is global, not every place on Earth experienced the sixth warmest year on record. Some places had record-high temperatures, and we saw record droughts, floods and fires around the globe. (Credits: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio/Kathryn Mersmann)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Earth’s global average surface temperature in 2021 tied with 2018 as the sixth warmest on record, according to independent analyses done by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Continuing the planet’s long-term warming trend, global temperatures in 2021 were 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit (0.85 degrees Celsius) above the average for NASA’s baseline period, according to scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York. NASA uses the period from 1951-1980 as a baseline to see how global temperature changes over time.

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2021 in Review: Highlights from NASA in Silicon Valley

Ingenuity Mars helicopter flies on the Red Planet. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — Join us as we look back at the highlights of 2021 at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley.

1) NASA’s water-hunting Moon rover, the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, made great strides this year. The VIPER team successfully completed practice runs of the full-scale assembly of the Artemis program’s lunar rover in VIPER’s new clean room. Two rounds of egress testing let rover drivers practice exiting the lander and rolling onto the rocky surface of the Moon. NASA also announced the landing site selected for the robotic rover, which will be delivered to the Nobile region of the Moon’s South Pole in late 2023 as part of the Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative. NASA also chose eight new VIPER science team members and their proposals to expand and complement VIPER’s already existing science team and planned investigations. This year’s progress contributed to VIPER’s completion of its Critical Design Review, turning the mission’s focus toward construction of the rover beginning in late 2022.

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UNOOSA and United Kingdom Sign Agreement to Map Global Space-related Climate Action Efforts

VIENNA, 21 December 2021 (UN Information Service PR) – The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the United Kingdom have signed an agreement to address the information gap for space-related climate actions. The scientific community and the United Nations (UN) system have long recognized and utilized space-based technologies, data and applications as essential components in climate change research, monitoring, and policy enactment. However, a comprehensive overview of the broad spectrum of current and planned activities in using space for climate action has been missing.

Through this new partnership, the UN and the United Kingdom strive to address this information gap and build synergies, facilitate coherence, and contribute to avoiding duplication of existing efforts. With a Strategic Mapping Exercise, the core of the mutual work, the two parties are going to review existing activities at the international and regional levels, in the UN system, for non-UN groups, partnerships, organizations and other relevant entities.

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Annual Climate Attribution Research Examines 2020 Extreme Weather Events

A collage of typical climate and weather-related events: floods, heatwaves, drought, hurricanes, wildfires and loss of glacial ice. (Credit: NOAA)

Report includes focus on the advance of rapid attribution methods

BOSTON (AMS PR) – Failed monsoon rains that reignited the southwestern US drought, massive flooding in central China, a spring heat wave in western Europe, and Siberian wildfires were some of the extreme weather events made more likely by human-caused climate change in 2020, according to new research published today in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS).

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Report: Climate Change Contributed to Some of 2020’s Worst Weather

Lake Powell has fallen to its lowest level on record since it was first filled more than 50 years ago. (Credit: Jay Huang, Flickr/Creative Commons)

New research reinforces consensus that humans have created a new climate

SILVER SPRING, Md. (NOAA PR) — Failed monsoon rains that reignited the southwestern U.S. drought. A spring heat wave in western Europe. Intense Siberian wildfires. Scientists say human-caused climate change made these extreme weather events more likely, according to new research published today in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS). 

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World Bank and Singapore Space & Technology Launch Digital Earth Partnership Technology Challenge on Urban Heat

SINGAPORE (Singapore Space & Technology PR) — Singapore Space & Technology Limited (SSTL) announces the second year of its partnership with the World Bank Group, to organize a Digital Earth Partnership Technology Challenge focused on the measurement and analysis of extreme urban heat. The challenge aims to improve our understanding of the Urban Heat Island (UHI) Effect and its impact on East Asian communities.

Like the rest of the world, Asia is getting warmer due to climate change. The UHI effect, which is caused mainly by the modification of land surfaces due to urbanisation, is exacerbating this trend. The removal of trees and other green spaces to make way for buildings and roads, the addition of heat-absorbing materials, and waste heat from energy use in buildings and transportation are adding to the already rising ambient temperature. This is a growing problem in the region as it results in reduced productivity, worse education and health outcomes, and greater energy requirements for cooling, leading to more carbon emissions. Heat waves in cities also correlate with increased crime, conflict, domestic violence, and poorer mental health. Extreme heat disproportionately impacts poor or otherwise marginalized communities and is a particular problem for the region’s developing countries.

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NASA To Launch 4 Earth Science Missions in 2022

An illustration of the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS). JPSS is a collaborative program between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA. JPSS-2 is NOAA’s next-generation operational Earth observation program that acquires and distributes global environmental data primarily from multiple polar-orbiting satellites. (Credits: Orbital ATK/Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems)

By Alison Gold
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA will launch four Earth science missions in 2022 to provide scientists with more information about fundamental climate systems and processes including extreme storms, surface water and oceans, and atmospheric dust. Scientists will discuss the upcoming missions at the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) 2021 Fall Meeting, hosted in New Orleans between Dec. 13 and 17.

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Sentinel-6 Returning Most Precise Data Ever on Sea Level

Copernicus Sentinel-6 mission spacecraft (Credit: ESA/ATG Medialab)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Sea-level rise is one of the most immediate consequences of climate change, as highlighted recently through urgent pleas from leaders of island nations at the COP26 summit. Global measures of sea-level rise are imperative to underpinning global policy and for strategies to protect coastlines and low-lying lands. Measuring tiny differences in the height of the sea surface from space is no easy task – but that’s exactly what the Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite is doing. And, after a year of exhaustive testing, this new mission is now delivering the world’s most accurate data on sea-level rise. 

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House Passes Infrastructure Spending Bill With Extra $1 Billion for NASA

The House of Representatives passed H.R. 5376, the Build Back Better Act last week that includes billions of dollars in funds for NASA, NOAA and other scientific and technology agencies.

In addition to funding improvements to physical infrastructure, the measure puts a major emphasis on addressing climate change, a problem that the Biden Administration takes seriously. The previous president described as a Chinese plot to destroy American industry.

The bill now goes to the Senate where its fate is uncertain.

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Hydrosat Raises $10 Million Seed Round to Assess Climate Change From Space

Funding led by OTB Ventures for thermal infrared satellite constellation

WASHINGTON (Hydrosat PR) — Hydrosat, the geospatial data and analytics company, announces a new Seed Round raising $10M to create its thermal infrared satellite constellation. Today’s funding brings Hydrosat’s total capital raised to over $15M. The oversubscribed venture round was led by OTB Ventures, a leading European venture firm with a dedicated space investment vehicle, OTB Space Program I. Freeflow Ventures, Cultivation Capital, Santa Barbara Venture Partners, and Expon Capital also participated in the round.

Hydrosat began as a satellite company monitoring the water cycle to rapidly detect environmental stress brought about by climate change. Recent climate disasters, ranging from drought on the West Coast to flash floods on the East Coast of the United States, illustrates the growing importance of this technology as the world’s major governments meet this month for the United Nations COP26 Climate Change Conference.

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Climate Models Improved Through Artificial Intelligence and Earth Observation Data

Change in surface temperature. (Credit: © DLR/DKRZ)
  • At the UN climate conference COP26 in Glasgow, the world community advises on measures against climate change.
  • The impact of humans on climate change is clear, according to the World Climate Report.
  • As coordinating lead author, Prof. Veronika Eyring from DLR is jointly responsible for the report.
  • Her research evaluates different climate models with observational data from space travel and improves the models with AI.

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — The models for predicting climate change are becoming more and more accurate. They process huge amounts of data, evaluate information and combine them into an overall picture. The World Climate Report has shown what that looks like. “It is clear that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, the ocean and the land,” the report notes. The extent of the changes in the entire climate system is therefore unprecedented for many centuries to millennia. 

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Space Data Helping Earth Adapt to Challenges of Climate Change

Satellite image showing London land surface temperature. (Credit: NCEO and University of Leicester)

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — Satellite data will be used to monitor and map heat in locations at greatest risk from climate change in one of two new projects being backed by the UK Space Agency.

Satellite data will be used to monitor and map heat in locations at greatest risk from climate change in one of two new projects being backed by the UK Space Agency.

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UK Government Backs Space Technology to Tackle Climate Change

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — Trailblazing technology that will help tackle climate change and predict global disasters using satellites is receiving new funding from the UK Space Agency.

Eleven UK organisations have been awarded a share of just under £7 million of government funding to put into action the latest advances in space innovation. The majority of the projects focus on climate change or environmental management, with others designed to secure our telecommunication systems and protect digital infrastructure against cyber-attacks.

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Emission Reductions From Pandemic Had Unexpected Effects on Atmosphere

Worldwide restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic caused huge reductions in travel and other economic activities, resulting in lower emissions. Seen here, almost-empty highways in Colombia during the pandemic. (Credits: International Monetary Fund)

Earth’s atmosphere reacted in surprising ways to the lowering of emissions during the pandemic, showing how closely climate warming and air pollution are linked.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting limitations on travel and other economic sectors by countries around the globe drastically decreased air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions within just a few weeks. That sudden change gave scientists an unprecedented view of results that would take regulations years to achieve.

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UK Climate Satellite Design Competition Opens for Next Generation of Space Scientists

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — The Government‘s Nanosat Design Competition has opened for entries, with aspiring space scientists invited to design a small satellite to help inform solutions to climate change.

Competition entrants will compete for a share of a £600,000 Challenge Fund, enabling them to develop and build their satellite design with the potential to launch from a UK spaceport from 2023.

Enter the Nanosat Design competition.

Nanosatellites are small satellites that can be used to gather scientific data, such as information on climate change, ranging from sea level measurements to mapping deforestation.

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