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The measurement of climate change using data from the Along-track Scanning and Advanced Very-High Resolution Radiometers

Simon Good(1) , Sean Lawrence(1) , and David Llewellyn-Jones(1)

(1) University of Leicester, Space Research Centre, Leicester LE1 7RH, United Kingdom


Global sea-surface temperature is potentially an important indicator of climate change, with the ability to reflect warming/cooling climate trends. The detection of such trends requires rigorous measurements that are global, accurate and consistent. Space instruments can provide the means to achieve these required attributes in sea-surface temperature data. Analyses of two independent data-sets from the AVHRR and ATSR series of space sensors during the period 1985 to 2000 reveal trends of increasing global temperature with magnitudes of 0.09 degrees C and 0.13 degrees C per decade respectively, closely matching that expected due to current levels of greenhouse gas exchange. In addition, an analysis based upon singular value decomposition, allowing the removal of El Niño in order to examine areas of change other than the tropical Pacific region, indicates that the 1997 El Niño event affected sea-surface temperature globally. The methodology demonstrated here can be applied to other data-sets, which cover long time-series observations of geophysical observations in order to characterise long-term change. The conclusion is that satellite sea-surface temperature provides an important means to quantify and explore the processes of climate change.


Workshop presentation