Andrea T Edwards

NASA climate leader, we need more data, we need to work faster

Gavin Schmidt, the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, published an article in Nature this week, essentially saying that, with all the data available, climate scientists cannot fully account for 2023’s heat anomaly. This should be in headlines everywhere. It isn’t.  

To quickly summarize, last year, average land and sea surface temperatures “have overshot previous records each month by up to 0.2 °C — a huge margin at the planetary scale.”

There are many reasons for this – the impact of greenhouse gas emissions, El Nino, sulphate reductions in shipping pollution, Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha‘apai volcanic eruption in Tonga and so on. But none of these events, even when combined, explain the heat anomaly.

This is a very important piece of writing, with one of the top climate scientists putting his hand on his heart and saying: we just don’t know. But what we do know is we need more data, and we need to do our work faster.

So much of the climate science we read is already old and outdated by the time it gets to us, which is a concern, because if everything is accelerating, we need our scientists to help us understand it as quickly as possible. Our governments also need this, because as we’ve seen in recent years, all are scrambling to respond to the escalation in our environment, while continuing to focus action on data that is out of pace with reality.

As someone paying attention to this for a VERY long time, the absence of information has always been obvious. As an example, Antarctica. While we know a lot more today since the international team of scientists started work there a few years ago, it is a region of the world with massive limitations – due to weather, inaccessibility, lack of previous data, etc…

Check out Paul Beckwith he’s sharing compelling information on Antarctica, the Arctic, ocean currents, etc…

Another area is the oceans. Some of the world’s oceans are so inhospitable, it’s impossible to get data or even fully understand the role the various oceans play – although this is a better studied area for sure. However, when the full picture requires information from the bottom of the depths, that’s not so easy to get, which means we don’t have the full story. As I’ve said before, lack of information is still information.

Here’s an example of an ocean study that is “old” – 2013-14 – especially considering what we’re seeing happen in the ocean in the last 12 months – Northern Hemisphere mass bleaching event, Great Barrier Reef current bleaching event, fish swimming in circles because the water is too hot, ocean heat extremes everywhere, and so on.

The negative comments I’ve seen on this article are astounding. This is not a failure of science (in fact, we should be celebrating his honesty, because it’s a long time coming), instead I see it as a failure of technology, investment, government commitment and global collaboration, along with the ‘process’ of science as we move into acceleration.

For now, my concern in the coming months living in the tropics is – what are we going to experience as we face the highest temperatures ever recorded in a hot season, with the maximum typically expected in April, while we have already exceeded typical April temperatures in February?

And then, once we get through that, I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled on August, when the global system is expected to stabilize, and if it doesn’t, well… we’re in unchartered territory.



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Uncommon Courage, an invitation

Uncommon Courage is an invitation to be your courageous best self every day. It’s also an antidote to the overwhelm, fear, and rage rolling around the world. But it’s more than a book; it’s an invitation to join an inclusive community that wants to better understand humanities challenges – both global and personal – in order to take courageous action and create a better world for everyone. If Covid19 gave us the time and space to reflect, Uncommon Courage gives us the nudge we need to create lasting change.

You can buy it on AmazonApple BooksBarnes & Noble, Book DepositoryBooktopia, SmashwordsKobo, Gardners, Odilo, Indie Bound, BookShop by BookTrib and Scribd.

Better yet, order it from your local bookstore, so you can #SupportLocal.

You can read the reviews, including a new five-star review on Book Commentary, another five-star review on ReaderViews, a review on BookTrib, and three more on Booklife, another on Book Commentary and Blue Ink Reviews. I’m also collating reviews on my Website too. Have a look and grateful to everyone who has written or recorded one.

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18 Steps to an All-Star LinkedIn Profile 

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