Early development in the study of greenhouse warming: The emergence of climate models

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Abstract

Following the pioneering contributions of Arrhenius, Callendar and others, climate models emerged as a very promising tool for the study of greenhouse warming. In the early 1960s, a one-dimensional, radiative-convective equilibrium model was developed as the first step towards the development of a three-dimensional model of climate. Incorporating not only the radiative but also the convective heat exchange between the earth's surface and the atmosphere, the model overcame the difficulty encountered by the earlier approach of surface radiative heat balance in estimating the magnitude of greenhouse warming. By the 1970s, a three-dimensional, general circulation model (GCM) of the atmosphere, coupled to a very idealized ocean of swamp-like wet surface, had been used for studies of greenhouse warming. Despite many drastic simplifications, the GCM was very effective for elucidating the physical mechanisms that control global warming and served as a stepping stone towards the use of more comprehensive, coupled ocean-atmosphere GCMs for the study of this problem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-51
Number of pages5
JournalAMBIO
Volume26
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecology

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