Reading: 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 the Tool

Tool NameSimple Models of Climate Change
DisciplinePhysics, Earth Sciences
Topic(s) in DisciplineClimate Physics, Climate Models, Atmospheric Circulation, Heath Transfer, Radiation, Chaos Theory
Climate TopicPlanetary Climate; Planetary Energy Balance
Type of toolReading
Grade LevelHighschool, Undergraduate
LocationGlobal
LanguageEnglish
Translation
Developed bySpencer Weart
Hosted atCenter for History of Physics, American Institute of Physics
LinkLink
AccessOnline/ Offline
Computer SkillsBasic

Reading: Chaos Theory and Global Warming

A reading titled ‘Chaos in the Atmosphere’ 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’, that explains complex models about weather prediction and chaos theory. 

Students will learn about chaos theory with respect to the Earth’s atmosphere and climate system. They will also learn how chaos theory is used to make predictions and calculations for climate change.

Use this tool to help your students find answers to:

  1. What is chaos theory?
  2. What makes climate calculation difficult to predict?
  3. How can small changes lead to catastrophic climate impact?

About the Tool

Tool NameChaos in the Atmosphere
DisciplinePhysics, Earth Sciences
Topic(s) in DisciplineChaos Theory, Climate Models, Atmospheric Physics, Weather Prediction
Climate TopicPlanetary Climate; Planetary Energy Balance
Type of toolReading
Grade LevelHigh School, Undergraduate
LocationGlobal
LanguageEnglish
Translation
Developed bySpencer Weart
Hosted atCenter for History of Physics, American Institute of Physics
LinkLink
AccessOnline/ Offline
Computer SkillsBasic

Teaching module: The Physics of Climate Change Prediction

A teaching module developed by Climateprediction.net on climate physics and climate models. The module for ‘A level Physics’ students includes introductory resources, exercises and worksheets on climate change models. The module consists of the following sections:

  • Introducing climate prediction
  • Climate modelling using Modellus
  • Simple Climate Model
  • The logistic equation
  • Advanced Climate Model
  • Science Behind the News Headlines

Students will be introduced to iterative modelling with spatial and temporal resolutions that can be used in Gas Laws and Thermal Physics. They will also learn about advanced logistic equations and how to apply them to the issue of climate change. 

Use this tool to help your students find answers to: 

  1. What is a simple energy balance model? 
  2. How can logistic equations be used to predict climate and weather changes?
  3. Discuss, with example, how climate change science is portrayed in the media?

About the tool

Tool NameA level Physics
DisciplinePhysics
Topic(s) in DisciplineClimate Physics, Thermal Physics, Gas Law, Atmospheric Physics, Chaos Theory, Chaotic Systems, Climate Change Models, Logistic Equation, Greenhouse Gas Effect
Climate Topic Planetary Energy Balance; Planetary Climate; Climate Variability Record
Type of tool Teaching Module
Grade LevelHigh School, Undergraduate
LocationGlobal 
LanguageEnglish 
Translation
Developed byClimate Prediction
Hosted atClimate Prediction Website
Linkhttps://www.climateprediction.net/education/a-level-physics/
AccessOnline/Offline
Computer SkillsBasic 

Teaching Module: Climate Change Mathematics by NASA

A teaching module by NASA makes the use of basic mathematics, algebra, geometry, trigonometric functions and statistics to understand earth science and climate change. This teaching module consists of a range of topics, for different grade levels, and relates them to mathematical modelling. The topic covered are as stated below:

  1. Fractions and Chemistry
  2. Counting Atoms in a Molecule
  3. Parts per Hundred
  4. Parts per Thousand
  5. Kelvin Temperatures and Very Cold Things
  6. Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? 
  7. Ancient Eclipses and the Length of Day 
  8. Earth’s Polar Wander – The Chandler Wobble 
  9. Identifying Materials by their Reflectivity 
  10. Reflectivity Fingerprints
  11. Graphical Reflectivity Measurements 
  12. Electricity – Watts and Kilowatts
  13. Energy in the Home
  14. Energy Consumption in an Empty House! 
  15. Annual Electricity Consumption in a Home
  16. Carbon Dioxide Production at Home
  17. US Electrical Energy Consumption
  18. World Electricity Consumption and Carbon Dioxide 
  19. Earth’s Atmosphere
  20. Carbon Dioxide Production and Sequestration
  21. Carbon Dioxide Increases
  22. Modeling the Keeling Curve with Excel
  23. Carbon Dioxide – Where does it all go?
  24. A Simple Model for Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide 
  25. Carbon Dioxide Increases During the Last 2000 Years
  26. Carbon Dioxide Changes During the Last 400,000 Years 
  27. Solar Insolation Changes and the Sunspot Cycle
  28. The Solar Constant Since 1600
  29. Scientists Track the Rising Tide
  30. A Satellite View of Downtown Las Vegas
  31. Exploring Washington DC from Space! 
  32. Paris – In a Different Light
  33. Glacier Retreat
  34. Estimating Biomass Loss From a Large Fire 
  35. Earth – A Matter of Gravity!
  36. Magnetic Earth and the Lithosphere 
  37. Studying Ocean Plankton From Space 
  38. NASA Satellite Sees Carbon Dioxide 
  39. Carbon Production in the US – 2002 
  40. Earth’s Carbon Metabolism – Revealed
  41. The International Space Station and Atmospheric Drag 
  42. Satellite Drag and the Hubble Space Telescope 
  43. Earth’s Rotation Changes and the Length of the Day 
  44. The Global Warming Debate and the Arctic Ice Cap 
  45. The Great Gulf Oil Catastrophe of 2010
  46. Recent Events: A Perspective on Carbon Dioxide

Use this tool to help students find answers to:

  1. What is ‘reflectivity’? Graph the measurements of commonly mentioned materials as per their reflectivity index.
  2. What is ‘Keeling Curve’? What does it say about carbon dioxide concentrations over time?
  3. How is carbon dioxide concentration calculated using satellite imagery?

About the Tool

Tool NameEarth Math Educator Guide
DisciplineEarth Sciences, Mathematics and Statistics, Environmental Sciences
Topic(s) in DisciplineAlgebra, Data Analysis, Probability, Trigonometry, Fractions and Decimals, Energy Consumption, Visualization, Graphs, Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide, Keeling Curve, Carbon Sequestration, Glacier Retreat
Climate TopicIntroduction to Climate Change; Climate Variability Record; Planetary Climate
Type of toolTeaching Module
Grade LevelMiddle School, Highschool
LocationGlobal
LanguageEnglish
Translation 
Developed byNASA
Hosted atNANA STEM Engagement Website 
LinkLink
AccessOnline/ Offline
Computer SkillsBasic

Video Lecture: Radiative Transfer

Two video lectures titled, ‘Radiative Transfer Equation’ from the e-learning course, ‘Introduction to Atmospheric Science’ developed by C Balaji, IIT Madras, for National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL), India. These video lectures discuss how to calculate radiative transfer equation and further discusses its importance in atmospheric sciences, particularly in satellite remote sensing. 

Students will learn about isotropic scattering, radiation derivative calculation, spectral emissivity and reflectivity, absorption coefficient, Beer-Lambert’s law, and Schwarzschild’s equation. They will also learn how to apply the radiative transfer equation to multispectral infrared sounder, infrared imager, microwave sounder, and microwave imager  for satellite remote sensing and satellite meteorology. 

A transcript of the lecture is also provided.

Use this tool to help your students find answers to:

  1. Define the following:
    1. Radiative transfer
    2. Remote sensing
    3. Spectral emissivity
    4. Beer-Lambert’s law
  2. How can radiative transfer calculations be used for atmosphere remote sensing?

About the tool

Tool NameLecture – 35 and 36: Radiative Transfer Equation – Derivation
DisciplinePhysics, Earth Sciences
Topic(s) in DisciplineClimate Physics, Atmospheric Sciences, Atmospheric Physics, Radiative Transfer, Radiative Transfer Equation, Absorption Coefficient, Beer-Lambert’s law,  Schwarzschild’s Equation
Climate TopicPlanetary Climate; Planetary Energy Balance; Climate and the Atmosphere
Type of toolVideo Lecture (50 mins and 42 mins)
Grade LevelUndergraduate, Graduate
LocationGlobal
LanguageEnglish
Translation
Developed byC Balaji, IIT Madras
Hosted atNPTEL (https://nptel.ac.in/courses/119/106/119106008/)
LinkLink 1 , Link 2
AccessOnline
Computer SkillsBasic

Video Lecture: Planck’s Law and Earths Climate

A video lecture titled, ‘Planck’s distribution and Inverse square law’ from the e-learning course, ‘Introduction to Atmospheric Science’ developed by C Balaji, IIT Madras, for National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL), India. These video lecture gives a detailed explanation about Planck’s Law for black body distribution. It also includes discussions on Wien’s displacement law, radiative loss, Simpson’s rule, Trapezoidal rule, Gauss quads, the Stefan-Boltzmann Law,  and Newton Raphson method.

Students will learn about Planck’s law and how to calculate Earth’s temperature. They will also be introduced to photosphere, flux density, planetary albedo, reflectivity, absorptivity, transmissivity, emissivity for land,  and emissivity of ocean which are used to calculate Earth’s temperature and determine its climate.

A transcript of the lecture is also provided.

Use this tool to help your students find answers to:

  1. Define the following:
    1. Black body radiation
    2. Albedo Effect
    3. Adsorption
    4. Transmissivity
    5. Emissivity of land
  2. How is Earth’s temperature calculate given the following scenario:
    1. Earth as a black body
    2. Earth with oceans, snow covered land and a simple layer of non-interactive air

About the tool

Tool NameLecture – 32: Planck’s distribution and Inverse square law
DisciplinePhysics, Earth Sciences
Topic(s) in DisciplineClimate Physics, Atmospheric Sciences, Atmospheric Physics, Planck’s Law, Black Body Radiation, Earth Climate System, Albedo Effect, Stefan-Boltzmann Law
Climate TopicIntroduction to Climate Change; Planetary Climate; Planetary Energy Balance; Climate and the Atmosphere
Type of toolVideo Lecture ( 47 mins)
Grade LevelUndergraduate, Graduate
LocationGlobal
LanguageEnglish
Translation
Developed byC Balaji, IIT Madras
Hosted atNPTEL (https://nptel.ac.in/courses/119/106/119106008/)
LinkLink
AccessOnline
Computer SkillsBasic

Model/Simulator: Daisyworld—A Model to Explore the Gaia Hypothesis

A model/simulator to explore the Gaia hypothesis and the concepts of albedo and hysteresis through the example of daisies (living organisms) and their interaction with temperature (climatic factor).

Video Lecture: Physics of Scattering and Greenhouse Gases

Two video lectures titled, ‘Physics of scattering, emission and absorption’ from the e-learning course, ‘Introduction to Atmospheric Science’ developed by C Balaji, IIT Madras, for National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL), India. These video lectures explain the behaviour of Earth’s atmosphere due to interaction between gases and sun’s radiation which lead to radiative absorption, emission and scattering.

Students will learn about reflection, refraction, isotropic scattering, greenhouse gases, extinction coefficient, Prevost law, Stefan Boltzmann law, thermal conductivity of water, Kirchhoff’s law, Marshall-Palmer distribution, Rayleigh scattering, Mie scattering, Doppler and Lorentz broadening and Gaussian distribution.

A transcript of the lecture is also provided.

Use this tool to help your students find answers to:

  1. How do greenhouse gases interact with incoming solar radiation?
  2. Discuss the physics of scattering in the atmosphere.

About the tool

Tool NameLecture – 33 and 34: Physics of scattering, emission and absorption
DisciplinePhysics, Earth Sciences
Topic(s) in DisciplineClimate Physics, Atmospheric Sciences, Atmospheric Physics, Prevost law, Stefan Boltzmann law, Kirchhoff’s law, Marshall-Palmer distribution, Rayleigh scattering
Climate TopicIntroduction to Climate Change; Planetary Climate; Planetary Energy Balance; Climate and the Atmosphere
Type of toolVideo Lecture (48 mins and 41 mins)
Grade LevelUndergraduate, Graduate
LocationGlobal
LanguageEnglish
Translation
Developed byC Balaji, IIT Madras
Hosted atNPTEL (https://nptel.ac.in/courses/119/106/119106008/)
LinkLink 1 , Link 2
AccessOnline
Computer SkillsBasic

Reading: The Carbon Dioxide Greenhouse Effect

A reading titled ‘The Carbon Dioxide Greenhouse Effect’ by Spencer Weart hosted on the website of Center for History of Physics, American Institute of Physics. This reading is a supplement to the book titled, ‘The Discovery of Global Warming’ by Spencer Weart. It includes discussions on the greenhouse effect of the atmosphere and how it impacts Earth’s temperature. The reading also discusses the pioneering work of Svante Arrhenius, Guy Stewart Callendar, and Charles David (Dave) Keeling. 

Students will be introduced to the Greenhouse Effect, Keeling Curve, carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, and how increased carbon dioxide concentrations can cause an increase in the surface temperature of the Earth. 

Use this tool to help your students find answers to:

  1. What is the Greenhouse Effect?
  2. How does increased carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere lead to warming of the planet?

About the Tool

Tool NameThe Carbon Dioxide Greenhouse Effect
DisciplinePhysics, Earth Sciences
Topic(s) in DisciplineGreenhouse Effect, Greenhouse Gases, Keeling Curve
Climate TopicGreenhouse Effect; Planetary Climate; Planetary Energy Balance
Type of toolReading
Grade LevelMiddle School, Highschool
LocationGlobal
LanguageEnglish
Translation
Developed bySpencer Weart
Hosted atCenter for History of Physics, American Institute of Physics
LinkLink
AccessOnline/ Offline
Computer SkillsBasic

Reading: General Circulation Models of Climate

A reading titled ‘General Circulation Models of Climate’ by Spencer Weart hosted on the website of Center for History of Physics, American Institute of Physics. This reading is a supplement to the book titled, ‘The Discovery of Global Warming’ by Spencer Weart. It summarises the complexity of Earth System Models and challenges in creating a single global climate model. The reading gives details of the first model calculation by Syukuro Manabe, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2021, on how Earth’s average temperature would rise a few degrees if the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is doubled.

Students will learn about General Circulation Models, the Earth System and its complexity, and methods of weather and climate prediction.

Use this tool to help your students find answers to:

  1. What are the various Earth System Models?
  2. Why is it difficult to have a comprehensive climate model that accurately predicts climate behaviour?

About the Tool

Tool NameGeneral Circulation Models of Climate
DisciplinePhysics, Earth Sciences
Topic(s) in DisciplineClimate Models, General Circulation Model, Modelling, Earth System Models, Greenhouse Gas Models, Climate System
Climate TopicPlanetary Climate, Planetary Energy Balance
Type of toolReading
Grade LevelHighschool, Undergraduate
LocationGlobal
LanguageEnglish
Translation
Developed bySpencer Weart
Hosted atCenter for History of Physics, American Institute of Physics
LinkLink
AccessOnline/ Offline
Computer SkillsBasic

E-learning Course/ Reading: ‘The Discovery of Global Warming’

This E-learning course is a website of the Center for History of Physics, American Institute of Physics, created to supplement the book titled, ‘The Discovery of Global Warming” by Spencer Weart. The original book provides a history of scientific discovery into climate change as a single story. The website provides each chapter as a separate essay which is downloadable and is updated annually. 

It consists of the following chapters that detail each topic under climate change:

  1. Introduction and Summary 
  2. Influences on Climate
    1. The Carbon Dioxide Greenhouse Effect 
      1. Roger Revelle’s Discovery 
    2. Other Greenhouse Gases 
    3. Aerosols: Volcanoes, Dust, Clouds
    4. Biosphere: How Life Alters Climate
    5. Changing Sun, Changing Climate?
    6. Ocean Currents and Climate
  3. Climates Observed
    1. The Modern Temperature Trend 
    2. Rapid Climate Change Abrupt climate change
      1. Uses of Radiocarbon Dating
    3. Past Climate Cycles and Ice Ages 
      1. Temperatures from Fossil Shells 
  4. Theory
    1. Simple Models of Climate Change 
      1. Chaos in the Atmosphere 
      2. Venus & Mars 
    2. General Circulation Models of Climate
      1. Basic Radiation Calculations
      2.  Arakawa’s Computation Device 
  5. Climate and Society
    1. Impacts of Climate Change
      1. Ice Sheets, Rising Seas, Floods
    2. The Public and Climate Change
      1. Wintry Doom
    3. Government: The View from Washington
      1. Climate Modification Schemes
      2. Money for Keeling: Monitoring CO2 Levels 
    4. International Cooperation 
      1. Climatology as a Profession
  6. Conclusions: A Personal Note 

Students will learn about climate change sciences and history from the time of Ancient Greeks to the modern period. They will be introduced to scientific methodologies used to prove how modern climate change is due to anthropogenic activities. Additionally, students will also be able to access all resources used to study about the scientific experiments for themselves. 

Use this tool to help your students find answers to:

  1. What is anthropogenic climate change?
  2. Name some prominent climate change theories and how they were proven/disproven?
  3. What are some of the simple climate change models that draw the connection between Earth’s Climate System and human activities?

About the Tool

Tool NameThe Discovery of Global Warming
DisciplinePhysics, Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Geography
Topic(s) in DisciplineClimate Change, Global Warming, Climate Physics, Earth System, Climate System
Climate TopicIntroduction to Climate Change; Greenhouse Effect; Planetary Climate
Type of toolE-learning Course; Reading
Grade LevelMiddle School, High School
LocationGlobal
LanguageEnglish
Translation
Developed bySpencer Weart
Hosted atCenter for History of Physics, American Institute of Physics
LinkLink
AccessOnline/ Offline
Computer SkillsBasic

E-learning Course: The Earth’s Climate

An e-learning course to learn about the Earth’s climate system, climate change in the past and present, the impact of climate change, and measures for adaptation and mitigation.

Students will understand the Earth’s climate system, the feedback cycles and circulation systems that influence climate, the impact of climate change on important resources and ecosystems, and actions for adapting to and mitigating climate change.

Use this tool to help your students learn about the Earth’s climate from the following course modules:

Module 1: Past Episodes of Climate Change

Module 2: Recent Climate Change

Module 3: Earth’s Climate System

Module 4: Introduction to General Circulation Models

Module 5: Global Carbon Cycle

Module 6: Ocean Circulation and its Impact on Climate

Module 7: Ocean Acidification, Red Tides, and Monster Jellyfish

Module 8: Water Resources and Climate Change

Module 9: Climate Change and Food Supply

Module 10: Rising Seas

Module 11: Terrestrial Ecosystems in Peril

Module 12: Adaptation and Mitigation

About the Tool

Tool NameEarth in the Future
DisciplineEarth Sciences
Topic(s) in DisciplineClimate Change Overview; Introduction to Climate Change
Climate TopicPlanetary Climate; Introduction to Climate Change; Climate Literacy
Type of ToolE- learning course 
Grade LevelUndergraduate
LocationGlobal
LanguageEnglish
Translation
Developed byTimothy Bralower and David Bice
Hosted atThe Pennsylvania State University
LinkLink
AccessOnline
Computer SkillsIntermediate