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A History of Climate Models


A reading titled ‘Simple Models of Climate Change’ by Spencer Weart hosted on the website of Center for History of Physics, American Institute of Physics. This reading is a supplement to Spencer Weart’s book titled, ‘The Discovery of Global Warming’. This reading provides a history of climate change models from 1950 and how they evolved over time.

Students will learn about various topics in physics and earth sciences such as the greenhouse effect, atmospheric radiation, heat transfer, and general atmospheric circulation models. They will also learn how some ideas – correct and incorrect, about climate sciences were theorised and evolved with time.

Use this tool to help your students find answers to:

  1. When was the first climate change model theorised?
  2. What were some of the misconceptions about climate change in the mid-20th century?
  3. What ideas and methods about climate change from the past have carried on into current climate change models?
About Tool
Tool Name Simple Models of Climate Change 
Discipline Physics, Earth Sciences 
Topic(s) in Discipline Climate Physics, Climate Models, Atmospheric Circulation, Heat Transport, Radiation, Chaos Theory
Climate Topic Planetary Energy Balance
Type of tool Reading
Grade Level High School, Undergraduate
Location Global
Language English
Translation      –
Developed by Spencer Weart
Hosted at Center for History of Physics, American Institute of Physics
Access Online/ Offline 
Computer Skills Basic


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