Scientists say follow-up research on a groundbreaking 2015 climate study confirmed the report's dire conclusion: The Earth is heating up faster than the scientific community realized.
To check the results of the original National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration study, researchers pulled together data from NOAA itself, as well as NASA, the U.K.'s Hadley Centre, the Japanese Meteorological Agency and the Berkeley Earth group, according to The Guardian.
Their findings were presented as an academic paper in the research journal Science Advances.
Each of those agencies came to the same conclusion about Earth's warming atmosphere. For their follow-up, the scientists sought to reconcile different methodologies used by each research group -- for example, The Guardian reported, different organizations may measure ocean temperatures at varying depths, or develop different methods of dealing with distortion caused by the urban heat-island effect.
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Scientists were able to correct for the differences in data partly by comparing it to temperature measurements on the surface of the ocean, taken by "largely independent, near-global, and instrumentally homogeneous SST measurements from floating buoys, Argo floats, and radiometer-based satellite measurements."
"These results suggest that reported rates of [sea surface temperature] warming in recent years have been underestimated in these three data sets," the study's authors concluded.
The results are consistent with other recently published studies. For example, the World Meteorological Organization said in mid-November that data from 2011 to 2015 indicates those five years are the hottest on record.
The new report is not without controversy. Its lead author, Thomas Karl, has been criticized by other scientists for allegedly suppressing data contradictory to the results of his own research, Fox News reported.
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Karl has also found himself at odds with some lawmakers, most notably Rep. Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican who accused Karl of rushing incomplete data to publication in an effort to legitimize aspects of President Barack Obama's environmental policies.
Climate scientists dispute that assessment.
“To claim that there has been a rush to judgment is actually the polar opposite of what has occurred … In many ways, [the study] is playing catch up," Peter Thorne, chairman of the International Surface Temperature Initiative, told Science magazine.