Ask NASA Climate

A healthy coral reef. Credit: Jeremy Cohen, Penn State University

Vanishing Corals: NASA Data Helps Track Coral Reefs

4 min read

In Brief: Coral reefs, one of the most important ecosystems in the world, are in a global decline due to climate change. Data from airborne and satellite missions can fill in the gaps in underwater surveys and help create a…

Article10 months ago
Aerosols are small particles or droplets that float in the air. They are emitted by both natural events and human activities. Some aerosols cool the climate, and others have a warming effect. Image credits, left to right: Saiho/Pixabay, olegkamenskij20120/Pixabay, USGS. Image design: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Aerosols: Small Particles with Big Climate Effects

5 min read

In Brief: Aerosols are small particles in the air that can either cool or warm the climate, depending on the type and color of the particle. We often think of aerosols as spray paint, insect repellant, or similar substances sprayed…

Article11 months ago
Visualization of ocean currents in the North Atlantic. The colors show sea surface temperature (orange and yellow are warmer, green and blue are colder). Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Slowdown of the Motion of the Ocean

4 min read

In Brief: As the ocean warms and land ice melts, ocean circulation — the movement of heat around the planet by currents — could be impacted. Research with NASA satellites and other data is currently underway to learn more. Dynamic…

Article11 months ago
Aerial view of recent lava flows near Mauna Loa’s summit in November 2022. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) monitors greenhouse gases at Mauna Loa Observatory, which is 4 miles (6 kilometers) away from the summit crater. Despite the proximity, volcanic gases aren’t common at the observatory, and when they do happen, these temporary spikes are not included in the long-term data. The decades-long trend of increasing CO2 at Mauna Loa matches that from sampling sites all around the world. Credit: USGS/J. Schmith

How Do We Know Mauna Loa Carbon Dioxide Measurements Don’t Include Volcanic Gases?

3 min read

In Brief: The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is measured at Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii, and all around the world. NASA also measures CO2 from space. Data from around the planet all shows the same upward trend. The longest…

Article12 months ago
Extreme levels of heat stress have more than doubled in the last 40 years, with significant implications for human health. Credit: Dustin Phillips (Flickr) CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Too Hot to Handle: How Climate Change May Make Some Places Too Hot to Live

7 min read

In Brief: As Earth’s climate warms, incidences of extreme heat and humidity are rising, with significant consequences for human health. Climate scientists are tracking a key measure of heat stress that can warn us of harmful conditions. How hot is…

Article2 years ago
Credit: John Fowler on Unsplash

Steamy Relationships: How Atmospheric Water Vapor Amplifies Earth’s Greenhouse Effect

5 min read

Water vapor is Earth’s most abundant greenhouse gas. It’s responsible for about half of Earth’s greenhouse effect — the process that occurs when gases in Earth’s atmosphere trap the Sun’s heat. Greenhouse gases keep our planet livable. Without them, Earth’s…

Article2 years ago
Flooding in the Tilff district of Esneux, a municipality of Wallonia located in the Ourthe Valley in the province of Liege, Belgium, July 16, 2021. Extreme flooding in several European countries in July 2021 resulted in hundreds of fatalities and billions of dollars in property damage. Credit: Régine Fabri, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Extreme Makeover: Human Activities Are Making Some Extreme Events More Frequent or Intense

6 min read

In Brief: It’s not your imagination: Certain extreme events, like heat waves, are happening more often and becoming more intense. But what role are humans playing in Earth’s extreme weather and climate event makeover? Scientists are finding clear human fingerprints.…

Article2 years ago