Monday, 12 September 2016

Climate Change - Early steps in Climate Science


Level of carbon dioxide gas (CO2) in the atmosphere, as later measured in ancient ice, was about 290 ppm (parts per million).

Global temperature for 1850-1870 was about 13.6°C.

Jean-Baptiste Joseph Fourier calculated that the Earth would be far colder if it lacked an atmosphere. 


Eunice Foote describes filling glass jars with water vapour, carbon dioxide and air, and comparing how much they heated up in the sun.
“The highest effect of the sun’s rays I have found to be in carbonic acid gas,” 
 “The receiver containing the gas became itself much heated – very sensibly more so than the other – and on being removed, it was many times as long in cooling.”

John Tyndall discovered that some gases block infra-red radiation. 

He suggested that changes in the concentration of the gases could bring climate change.

Milutin Milankovitch proposed orbital changes as the cause of ice ages. 

Guy Callendar showed that global warming was underway, reviving interest in the question. 

By accident, Russell Coope discovered that some past climate change events happened in just a few decades.

This came from his research into beetle fossils in 'Ice Age' layers.

Telescope studies showed a greenhouse effect raises temperature of the atmosphere of Venus far above the boiling point of water. 


Charles David Keeling accurately measured CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere.

He was not expecting to detect an annual rise.

The CO2 level was 315 parts per million (ppm)and global temperature (five-year average) was 13.9°C.

Keeling's measurements have been continued.

Current chart and data for atmospheric CO2

At the end of 2015 the level was over 400 ppm.

Global temperature in 2015 was 14.80°C.

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