News | February 20, 2015

NASA’s dramatic illustration of global temperature rise

Skeptics of global warming sometimes point to the fluctuations in temperature as a reason to doubt that humanity’s release of greenhouse gasses, largely through the burning of fossil fuels, is heating the planet. A focus on any short time period or any individual place, however, can mask the long-term climate trends.

Now NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio has released an animation that brings to life the clear increase in global surface temperatures over the last 30 years.

Starting with the year 1880, this color-coded animation displays worldwide anomalies in surface temperatures—averaged over five years. Although specific geographic areas can experience cooler temperatures in certain discreet time-periods, the pronounced overall global warming trend at the end of the sequence is impossible to ignore.


This animation shows how the cooler than average temperatures in the Eastern United States during 2014 compare to increased warming on most of the rest of the planet.



Overall, greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide, methane, and even water vapor keep heat trapped within the earth’s atmosphere. With the concentration of these gasses increasing, the additional heat has to go somewhere. And air temperature isn’t the only thing going up. The oceans of the world are hotter and they’re on the rise, too.

NASA’s animation shows once again why SELC’s focus on clean energy is critical to the South’s—and the earth’s—future.


Animations courtesy of NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio, with data provided by Robert B. Schmunk (NASA/GSFC GISS)