The claim: Earth, Jupiter, Mars, Neptune and Pluto have all warmed up in the past hundred years
According to NASA, greenhouse gas emissions released by human activities are causing the Earth’s average temperature to warm.
However, some social media users are sharing a post that implies humans are not responsible for this warming, instead postulating that Earth is being warmed by a force causing alleged warming on other planets as well.
“As the Earth has warmed over the past 100 years, Jupiter, Neptune, Mars and Pluto have also warmed,” read the caption of an Oct. 25 Facebook post.
The post garnered over 200 shares in a month.
But the assertion is false.
While Earth has shown a clear warming trend over the past 100 years, temperature records for the other planets mentioned in the social media post don’t go back as far, which means there is no no way to prove this claim. Additionally, there is no evidence of recent warming on Jupiter, Neptune or Mars, the researchers say.
“The simplest problem with these claims is that it is extremely difficult to measure temperatures on other planets from a distance,” Luke Moore, a professor and planetary scientist at Boston University, told USA TODAY in an e-mail. -mail. “Therefore, making a definitive claim similar to what is posted (in the meme) is dishonest and misleading.”
USA TODAY has reached out to the Facebook user who shared the post for comment.
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James Sinclair, a researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told USA TODAY in an email that there was no evidence to support the claim that Jupiter’s temperatures rose at the globally over the past 100 years.
In reality, there isn’t enough temperature data to show a global trend, according to Sushil Atreya, professor of climate and space science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
“The first and only systematic measurements of Jupiter’s heat balance were made by the Voyager spacecraft four decades ago,” he told USA TODAY in an email.
Additional conclusive systematic measurements would be needed to detect a change in global temperature since that time, he said.
More limited measurements over the past few decades have shown temperature fluctuations in “different regions of the atmosphere and different parts of the planet,” Atreya said. “But they don’t represent the temperature of the planet as a whole.”
Contrary to the claim made in the social media post, “there is no evidence to suggest that Neptune has warmed on a global scale in the past 100 years,” said planetary scientist Michael Roman at the University of Leicester, which recently published an article on temperature trends. on Neptune.
Reliable measurements of the planet only started 20 years ago, he said.
“Most of Neptune’s observable atmosphere appears to have cooled since reliable measurements began,” Roman said.
Glenn Orton, principal investigator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, also told USA TODAY in an email that the temperature record for Neptune was too short to determine temperature trends over the past 100 years.
Likewise, temperature data for Mars only goes back about 50 years, not 100 years, according to Michael Mischna, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Even that record has flaws and shows no long-term warming, according to Richard Zurek, chief scientist for the Mars Program Office at the same NASA lab.
“While Mars atmospheric temperatures were observed during Viking missions in the 1970s, few observations were made thereafter until the Mars Global Surveyor entered Mars orbit in the late 1990s” , did he declare. “Although we have much better data coverage since then, there does not appear to be a general warming trend on Mars.”
Nor is there 100 years of temperature data for Pluto, according to David Tholen, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii.
The first temperature observation for the dwarf planet — derived from atmospheric pressure readings — was in 1988, he told USA TODAY in an email.
Since that time, researchers have detected a warming trend on Pluto, according to Leslie Young, a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute.
This warming is thought to be linked to physical processes on the dwarf planet’s surface that are driven by summer in its northern hemisphere, she said. And because it takes almost 250 Earth years for Pluto to orbit the sun, the dwarf planet’s “seasons” last for decades.
There is evidence that Pluto’s warming is starting to slow, but there isn’t enough data to be sure, Young said.
Fact check: NASA says modern climate change is caused by human activity, not solar orbital cycles
Earth warming caused by human behavior
Unlike that of the planets mentioned above, the warming trend on Earth over the past hundred years is well documented and supported by observations from several independent agencies dating back to the 1800s.
“The warming the world has experienced is primarily due to the buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere,” Breakthrough Institute researcher Zeke Hausfather told USA TODAY in an email. “We have known CO2 to be a greenhouse gas for a long time – since the mid-1800s. We know that human activity causes it to increase because the buildup in the atmosphere is the amount we added in burning fossil fuels.”
Fact check: Contemporary human-caused warming has different ramifications than past warming
Our opinion: Partially False
Based on our research, we rate the statement that Earth, Jupiter, Mars, Neptune, and Pluto have all warmed up over the past hundred years as PARTLY FALSE. The Earth has warmed over the past 100 years due to human activities which release greenhouse gases. There are no centennial temperature records for Jupiter, Neptune, Mars or Pluto. A short-term warming trend has been detected on Pluto, but not on Jupiter, Neptune or Mars.
Our fact-checking sources:
- Leslie Young, November 8-21, email exchange with USA TODAY
- Xi Zhang, October 31, email exchange with USA TODAY
- James Sinclair, October 27, email exchange with USA TODAY
- Michael Mischna, October 26, interview with USA TODAY
- Wanying Kang, October 26, email exchange with USA TODAY
- David Tholen, November 1-10, email exchange with USA TODAY
- Michael Roman, November 1, email exchange with USA TODAY
- Glenn Orton, October 27, email exchange with USA TODAY
- Luke Moore, November 10, email exchange with USA TODAY
- Leigh Fletcher, November 10, email exchange with USA TODAY
- Sushil Atreya, November 10-17, email exchange with USA TODAY
- Zeke Hausfather, November 17, email exchange with USA TODAY
- Isaac Smith, November 18, email exchange with USA TODAY
- Peter Thomas, November 18, email exchange with USA TODAY
- Candice Hansen, November 18, email exchange with USA TODAY
- Richard Zurek, November 18, email exchange with USA TODAY
- NASA Global Climate Change, accessed November 5, Global Temperature
- The Planetary Science Journal, April 11, Subseasonal variation in Neptune’s mid-infrared emission
- NASA Global Climate Change, accessed November 5, Evidence
- NASA Global Climate Change, accessed November 5, Causes
- Met Office Climate Dashboard, Accessed November 11, Global Temperature
- Space.com, April 15, Curious Kids: What is a Dwarf Planet?
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