The Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) is a laboratory in the Earth Sciences Division of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center affiliated with the Columbia University Earth Institute. The institute is located at Columbia University in New York City.
Research at the GISS emphasizes a broad study of global change, the natural and anthropogenic changes in our environment that affect the habitability of our planet. These effects may occur on greatly differing time scales, from one-time forcings such as volcanic explosions, to seasonal/annual effects such as El Niño, and on up to the millennia of ice ages.
The institute’s research combines analysis of comprehensive global datasets (derived from surface stations combined with satellite data for sea surface temperatures) with global models of atmospheric, land surface, and oceanic processes. Study of past climate change on Earth and of other planetary atmospheres provides an additional tool in assessing general understanding of the atmosphere and its evolution.
A key objective of Goddard Institute for Space Studies research is a prediction of climate change in the 21st century. The research combines paleogeological record, analysis of comprehensive global datasets (derived mainly from spacecraft observations), with global models of atmospheric, land surface, and oceanic processes.
Climate science predictions are based substantially on historical analysis of Earth’s paleoclimate (climate through geological ages), and the sea-level/ temperature/ carbon dioxide record.
Changes in carbon dioxide associated with continental drift, and the decrease in volcanism as India arrived at the Asian continent, allowed temperatures to drop & Antarctic ice-sheets to form. This resulted in a 75m drop in sea level, allowing our present-day coastlines & habitats to form and stabilize.
Global change studies at GISS are coordinated with research at other groups within the Earth Sciences Division, including the Laboratory for Atmospheres, Laboratory for Hydrospheric and Biospheric Sciences, and Earth Observing System science office.