Researchers use 'global thermometer' to track temperature extremes, droughts

ScienceDaily | 1/3/2018 | Staff
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An analysis of records from NASA's Aqua satellite between 2003 and 2014 shows that spikes in maximum surface temperatures occurred in the tropical forests of Africa and South America and across much of Europe and Asia in 2010 and in Greenland in 2012. The higher temperature extremes coincided with disruptions that affected millions of people: severe droughts in the tropics and heat waves across much of the northern hemisphere. Maximum temperature extremes were also associated with widespread melting of the Greenland ice sheet.

The satellite-based record of land surface maximum temperatures, scientists have found, provides a sensitive global thermometer that links bulk shifts in maximum temperatures with ecosystem change and human well-being.

Conclusions - Journal - Applied - Meteorology - Climatology

Those are among the conclusions reported in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology by a team of scientists from Oregon State University, the University of Maryland, the University of Montana and the Pacific Northwest Research Station of the U.S. Forest Service.

Land surface temperature measures the heat radiated by land and vegetation. While weather stations typically measure air temperatures just above the surface, satellites record the thermal energy emitted by soil, rock, pavement, grass, trees and other features of the landscape. Over forests, for example, the satellite measures the temperature of the leaves and branches of the tree canopy.

Difference - Temperature - Sand - Air - Beach

"Imagine the difference between the temperature of the sand and the air at the beach on a hot, summer day," said David Mildrexler, the lead author who received his Ph.D. from the College of Forestry at Oregon State last June. "The air might be warm, but if you walk barefoot across the sand, it's the searing hot surface temperature that's burning your feet. That's what the satellites are measuring."

The researchers looked at annual maximum land surface temperatures averaged across 8-day periods throughout the year for every 1-square kilometer (247 acres) pixel on...
(Excerpt) Read more at: ScienceDaily
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