Sources for global climate change information
The following links and resources are from a friend at the Ohio State University Byrd Polar Research Center. It is provided for those who wish to learn more about global climate change. These materials are organized from the most basic information to more complex issues. Included are a number of the international and national assessments that represent the general scientific consensus on specific topics. It is important to remember that scientists are naturally skeptical and constantly test and retest their hypotheses as more observations are obtained and as knowledge advances. Climate science, like all the sciences, builds on current knowledge to generate deeper and broader understanding.
Below are some web sites where you can explore the fundamentals of the role of greenhouse gases in maintaining the energy balance of the Earth, and the role of additional (anthropogenic) greenhouse gases that result in an enhanced warming of the Earth. The latter is called the Enhanced Greenhouse Effect (GHE) and is often cited a mechanism contributing to global warming. Global warming is a “catch all” term that really means the globally averaged surface temperature (GAST) of Earth has warmed. The best estimate is that the GAST has increased about 0.7 °C since 1900.
1) For the basics of the issue the Pew Center provides well balanced information: http://www.pewclimate.org/
2) More proactive but still well positioned within the IPCC (see below) is the Union of Concerned Scientists which also has a primer on climate change (http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/).
3) Once you understand the basics of the natural and enhanced GHE and some basic climatology, you might review the most authoritative documents on the issue of global climate change that are regularly produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (called the IPCC).
Several documents provide information about the IPCC and the IPCC process:
http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/10th-anniversary/anniversary-brochure.pdf [link updated 04/08 -blw]
http://www.ipieca.org/activities/climate_change/downloads/publications/ipcc_guide.pdf [link updated 04/08 -blw]
The Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) assessments (the science) are available on line at http://www.ipcc.ch. The Fourth Assessment released in March 2007 is available on line. The full reports are also available. I suggest you look at the Summary for Policy Makers for the 3 different Working Groups (WG): WG1 (The Physical Science Basis), WG2 (Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability) and WG3 (Mitigation of Climate Change). These summaries are written for the nonscientist and are available at http://www.ipcc.ch.
4) The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) has been combined with the President's Climate Change Science Initiative and is now called the Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) [http://www.climatescience.gov/]. The U.S. Climate Change Science Initiative also includes the Climate Change Technology Program [http://www.climatetechnology.gov/]. Here are some major assessments that are regional rather than global:
• Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA): Impacts of a Warming Arctic: Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. Overview and policymakers summary: http://www.acia.uaf.edu/
• The State of the Arctic Report (released Nov 2006):
• US National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change: A detailed overview of the consequences of climate change and mechanisms for adaptation can be read at http://www.usgcrp.gov/usgcrp/nacc. One issue in the climate community has been the differences between the surface-based temperature observations and those made from satellite-borne sensors. Those differences largely disappeared when the satellite records were properly corrected. The most recent report addressing these issues was issued in 2006 by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) and is available at
• In November 2006 Sir Nicholas Stern, Head of the Government Economics Service and Adviser to the Government on the economics of climate change and development, presented his report to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the Economics of Climate Change. You can see the report at http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk./independent_reviews/stern_review_economics_climate_change/stern_review_report.cfm
• The Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies’ website has excellent content including economic information: http://environment.yale.edu/topics/policy_economics_and_law/
• The New Scientist has posted an article entitled: Climate change: A guide for the perplexed. May 16 2007 at http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/dn11462. This reviews 26 of the most commons myths and misconceptions about climate change.
• For mitigation options you should see the discussion of energy stabilization wedges originally introduced in 2004 by Pascala and Socolow (Science) at http://www.princeton.edu/~cmi/resources/stabwedge.htm.
• A Worldwatch Institute document entitled American Energy: A Renewable Path to Energy Security is available at http://images1.americanprogress.org/il80web20037/americanenergynow/AmericanEnergy.pdf.
• Another valuable free site: Goddard Institute for Space Studies: http://www.giss.nasa.gov/. There is much information and many data sets. Of particular interest is Jim Hansen’s site: http://www.giss.nasa.gov/staff/jhansen.html
• You may wish to see Al Gore's Film, An Inconvenient Truth, regardless of your political leanings. Climate Change should not be a political lightning rod! He has a book by the same title. For actions that you might take see the accompanying web site (http://www.climatecrisis.net). Note that the movie won an Academy Award for Best Documentary. Note that his book is not peer-reviewed.
Additional papers of interest (more scientific and some require a subscription by your library)
- Sanderson, E. W. et al. The human footprint and the last of the wild. Bioscience, 52(10), 891–904, 2002.
- Hansen, J. L. et al. Earth's energy imbalance: Confirmation and implications. Science 308, 1431-1435, doi:10.1126/science.1110252, 2005. (see his web site mentioned above)
- Emanuel, K. Increasing destructiveness of tropical cyclones over the past 30 years. Nature, 436(7051), 686,-688, 2005.
- Jones, P.D. and M. E. Mann. Climate over past millennia. Reviews of Geophysics, 42, 2004.
- Velicogna et al. Short term mass variability in Greenland, from GRACE. Geophysical Research Letters, 32, 2005. Note: Science Magazine now makes papers over one year old publicly available at http://www.sciencemag.org
- Thomas R. Karl and Kevin E. Trenberth, Modern Global Climate Change, Science 302, 1719-1723 (2003).
- Note that Science had 2 special issues in 2003 entitled “State of the Planet” and “Tragedy of the Commons” – available at http://www.sciencemag.org/sciext/sotp/. Books on the topic for the lay reader include:
- Spencer Weart: The Discovery of Global Warming on line: http://aip.org/history/climate/index.html
- Jared Diamond: Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, 2005
Sources for global climate change information