A group of eight scientists published a study yesterday (May 24) in the journal Nature Scientific Reports debunking a statement EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt made on global temperatures during his Senate confirmation hearing January 18.
Pruitt said, per written record, “…over the past two decades, satellite data indicates there has been a leveling off of warming…” However, this latest research shows that is not technically true—and the researchers are explicit in stating so in their report: “Satellite temperature measurements do not support the recent claim of a ‘leveling off of warming’ over the past two decades.”
The study, written by scientists from institutions such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory examined satellite temperature data from January 1979 to December 2016. The report’s authors are clear to note that such short timespans may be “sensitive to small changes in the trend start date,” so more accurate observations surrounding climate change require longer analysis periods.
“In my opinion, when incorrect science is elevated to the level of formal congressional testimony and makes its way into the official congressional record, climate scientists have some responsibility to test specific claims that were made, determine whether those claims are correct or not, and publish their results,” said Benjamin Santer, the lead researcher who is based at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, to The Washington Post.
The group looked specifically at temperatures in the atmosphere’s lowest layer, the troposphere. They used three different satellite data sets: the Remote Sensing Systems, the Center for Satellite Applications and Research and the University of Alabama at Huntsville. Researchers found that the long-term warming trend hovers around 0.26-0.36 degrees Fahrenheit.
The availability of such data might be at-risk as a result of the proposed budget, released by President Donald Trump on May 23. His administration has proposed to cut the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s satellite branch by 17 percent, Science writes.
Pruitt is known to be skeptical of climate change and the science behind it. In the past, he’s questioned carbon dioxide’s impact on global temperature rise. This study is the latest attempt to challenge his—and the current administration’s—climate denial.
Read the complete study here.