The role of satellite remote sensing in climate change studies

  • A Corrigendum to this article was published on 29 October 2013
  • An Erratum to this article was published on 20 December 2013


Satellite remote sensing has provided major advances in understanding the climate system and its changes, by quantifying processes and spatio-temporal states of the atmosphere, land and oceans. In this Review, we highlight some important discoveries about the climate system that have not been detected by climate models and conventional observations; for example, the spatial pattern of sea-level rise and the cooling effects of increased stratospheric aerosols. New insights are made feasible by the unparalleled global- and fine-scale spatial coverage of satellite observations. Nevertheless, the short duration of observation series and their uncertainties still pose challenges for capturing the robust long-term trends of many climate variables. We point out the need for future work and future systems to make better use of remote sensing in climate change studies.

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Figure 1: Remote sensing of the climate system.
Figure 2: Upper atmosphere temperature trends between 1979 and 2012 based on MSU data sets.
Figure 3: Map of sea-level trends between 1993 and 2012.

Change history

  • 27 September 2013

    In the version of this Review Article originally published, on page 877, the mass balance of glaciers in the Karakarom region should have been 0.11±0.2 m yr−1. On page 879, in the second paragraph of the ‘Aerosols’ section, the estimated value for the direct radiative forcing should have been −1.0±0.34 W m−2. These errors have now been corrected in the HTML and PDF versions of the Review Article.

  • 02 December 2013

    In the version of this Review Article originally published, the temperature anomaly trends for RSS and UAH in Fig. 2b,c should have been positive values. These errors have now been corrected in the online versions of the Review Article. In the previous corrigendum, the mass balance of glaciers in the Karakarom region should have read 0.11±0.22 m yr-1.


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This work was supported by the National High-tech Research and Development Program of China (Grant No. 2009AA12200101) and the National Key Basic Research Program of China (Grant No. 2010CB530300).

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J.Y. and P.G. designed the framework of the Review. All authors contributed to writing.

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Correspondence to Peng Gong.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Yang, J., Gong, P., Fu, R. et al. The role of satellite remote sensing in climate change studies. Nature Clim Change 3, 875–883 (2013).

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