Wednesday, July 28, 2010

RealClimate: Happy 35th birthday, global warming!

RealClimate discusses Wally Broecker's prescient 1975 Science paper, “Are we on the brink of a pronounced global warming?” which appears to contain the first use of the term "global warming" in the scientific literature:
Overall, Broecker’s paper (together with that of Sawyer) shows that valid predictions of global warming were published in the 1970s in the top journals Science and Nature, and warming has been proceeding almost exactly as predicted for at least 35 years now. Some important aspects were not understood back then, like the role of greenhouse gases other than CO2, of aerosol particles and of ocean heat storage. That the predictions were almost spot-on involved an element of luck, since the neglected processes do not all affect the result in the same direction but partly cancel. Nevertheless, the basic fact that rising CO2 would cause a “pronounced global warming”, as Broecker put it, was well understood in the 1970s. In a 1979 TV interview, Steve Schneider rightly described this as a consensus amongst experts, with controversy remaining about the exact magnitude and effects.
Read the RealClimate post in full.

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