Friday, February 20, 2009

An illustration based on Ray Pierrehumbert's Principles of Planetary Climate

Ray Pierrehumbert's book Principles of Planetary Climate (forthcoming from Cambridge University Press) should be mandatory reading for anyone wishing to express an opinion on global climate change. (My comment is a bit unfair and hypocritical, as I expressed opinions before reading it.)

The underlying theme of all illustrations and comments I'm making on climate is that lay people (non-scientists in this context, like me) should take it upon themselves to sample the primary scientific literature on subjects that get politicized, such as climate change and evolution. Reading a real science journal reveals how science is conducted and the consensus of opinion, while it supports science through a paid subscription.

Sampling a scientific journal for a specific topic is a bit like drilling wells. Each well reveals the layers of rock below it. You can compare wells and infer the extent of various layers, but there is a lot of information in between that is missing. Ray Pierrehumbert's book was like seeing a geological map for all the holes I drilled reading the journal Nature.

The illustrations above and below are from my notes made while reading the first chapter of Principles of Planetary Climate. The first chapter is written to a broad audience, and therefore, it alone should suffice as mandatory reading. These illustrations are part of a presentation I'm preparing for the Temecula Valley Astronomers on astronomical forcing on global climate.

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