Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Basics of Climate Change Science - The Series

This page started a series of posts on the basics of climate change science and why we know that human activity is causing the climate to warm. To make the information easier to find, this current post creates a running summary and links to all the other posts. Whenever new articles are written they will be added to this central access point. Click on the titles for the full articles.

1. So is it "Global Warming" or "Climate Change?": A guide to some basic terms used by climate change scientists, including clarification of terms that scientists and the public use in different ways.

2. What is the Greenhouse Effect and What Does it Have to Do with Global Warming?: The Earth is kept warm by the natural greenhouse effect. This post describes the basic scientific principles and the history of their discovery, beginning with William Herschel in 1800.

3. So What are Greenhouse Gases and What are NOT Greenhouse Gases?: Most of the warming of the greenhouse effect is caused by a few gases that occur in very small amounts in the atmosphere. The strongest greenhouse gases are water vapor, CO2, methane, and ozone, with CO2 being the main driver of warming.

4. CO2 and Other Radiative Forcings of Global Warming: Impacts on the warming of the climate include forcings and feedbacks. This post explains the basic principles and the main drivers of global warming.

5. Carbon Dioxide (CO2): The Smoking Gun of Climate Change: CO2 is the main driver of  global warming. This post introduces the relationship between CO2 and temperature, and sets the stage for future posts on why we know the CO2 we've added to the climate system is causing our current unprecedented spike in warming.

As noted, this is a continuing series so more posts will be linked as they are written. Feel free to bookmark this post and return periodically to catch any updates you may have missed.

For those interested in more detailed discussions of climate science, follow the links provided in the posts above. For those who like even more details, review the latest IPCC Assessment Report Number 5 (AR5), whose four volumes provide thousands of pages on the science. Start with the Synthesis Report to get a detailed overview, then move to the Physical Science Basis report to dig deeper on the science. The other two reports deal with Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability and Mitigation of Climate Change, important for examining ways we can deal with the unequivocal science.


Stephanie Barr said...

How incredibly useful. Thanks for the overview

The Dake Page said...

Thanks. I hope to add more in the series.

Tom Martin said...

//... with CO2 being the main driver of warming.//
Actually it is water vapor by a lot.

the saturation point of CO2 for heat adsorption is almost immediate at 20PPM most of what it will adsorb has been adsorbed, then you have to double the CO2 concentration to 40 ppm and half of the prior amount is adsorbed, double that to 80PPM and again half of the prior amount... the rest vanishes into insignificance.

Water vapor on the other hand is thousands of times more dense and has a massive capacity to adsorb heat.
But the 'adsorbed' heat no matter what the gas is holding it is
fleeting - but a few moments and is gone.
The heat is radiated away and random directions and when unconstrained gases warm they expand - causing cooling.

The Dake Page said...


As discussed in the following post (which is linked in the article above), water vapor is naturally cycled into and out of the atmosphere on a relatively short time cycle (think, rain and snow). This means that while it has powerful short term impacts on temperature (a cloud passing in front of the sun will immediately make it feel cooler), water vapor is not a major driver of long-term climate change. It's more of a feedback, whereas CO2 is a forcing....Therefore, the concentrations of CO2 and methane are the main drivers of greenhouse gas induced climate change.

Do not continue to comment if you plan to be as dishonest and ignorant as your comment above, Tom Martin.