David Archer and Raymond Pierrehumbert (Eds), 2011. The warming papers: The scientific foundation for the climate change forecast, Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester, UK. ISBN: 978-1-4051-9616-1. VIII + 419 PP.
Article first published online: 10 JAN 2012
Copyright © 2012 Royal Meteorological Society
Volume 19, Issue 1, page E1, March 2012
How to Cite
Burt, P. J. A. (2012), David Archer and Raymond Pierrehumbert (Eds), 2011. The warming papers: The scientific foundation for the climate change forecast, Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester, UK. ISBN: 978-1-4051-9616-1. VIII + 419 PP. Met. Apps, 19: E1. doi: 10.1002/met.1289
- Issue published online: 2 MAR 2012
- Article first published online: 10 JAN 2012
This is a compendium of 32 papers which have been identified by the editors of the book as representing key stages in our evolving understanding of global warming, its causes and consequences. The book is divided in to two: Part I focuses on climate physics processes (17 papers) and Part II on elements of the carbon cycle and how global warming is predicted to affect these (15 papers). Thus, the reader is presented with papers ranging from Fourier's (1824) treatise on the regulation of the temperature of the Earth and the role of radiation balance in maintaining this (presenting a rare and useful translation of the paper in to English), via Tyndall's seminal work of 1861, to the more integrated studies of the past 30 years. The most recent paper presented was published in 2005. The papers are reproduced in their original formats, although each has a commentary provided by the editors highlighting key issues (findings, implications and misunderstandings) in the papers. Bearing in mind that many of the papers were written as speculative or forecasting studies it is interesting (and worrying) to see, broadly, how correct the authors were.
Because of the nature of this book a detailed commentary on the individual papers is not appropriate, but the editors have done an excellent job in drawing the material together, synthesizing it and presenting a coherent story. Reading the series of papers one is struck by how much some of the early researchers in this field got right, by how much knowledge has changed in even a relatively short time, and also by the changes in various parameters quoted. For example, the paper by Bolin (1977) notes a CO2 concentration in the atmosphere of 327 ppm. Current values are about 392 ppm (based on Mauna Loa Observatory data)!
This book will be of great value to anybody interested in the history of science, especially the evolving field of climate change, as well as those from the physical and life sciences who wish to delve a little deeper into aspects of global warming processes and consequences. Advanced students should also be encouraged to read it, as an illustrative text on how scientific knowledge evolves, as well as for the information contained within the papers.