April 6, 2017 19:00
The science of global warming is rooted in physics, including electromagnetic radiation, molecular spectroscopy, thermodynamics, convection, and feedback theory. Most of these pieces have been in place for more than a century. In fact, the first quantitative estimate of temperature sensitivity to a doubling in atmospheric carbon dioxide dates back to 1896… and the numerical value has not changed much since then! I will explain the history and physics behind the prediction of global warming, and the 20th century confirmation of this prediction. The same basic physics also allows us to understand the past climates of Earth, and the global climates of other planets in Solar System and beyond. Climate physics is therefore key to two active areas of research: anthropogenic global warming, and the search for life on other planets.