Where Does Climate Change Data Come From?

A Web of Satellites Provides Massive Amounts of Information—And Proof That Global Collaboration Is Possible

It’s starting to feel as though scientists and governments announce new policies and predictions for our warming planet every week. But where do the data undergirding the alarming headlines and dire futurecasts come from? A great deal of what we understand about climate change comes from above. Satellites are one of our best tools for detailing how our actions are impacting the planet.

For decades, scientists have placed specialized sensors aboard orbiting spacecraft to better understand the world we live in. Approximately 4,000 active satellites currently orbit Earth. Most are military-related. …