As a result of various conversations recently (and especially hearing Al Gore give his new talk a few weeks ago — preemptive plug, when his new movie An Inconvenient Truth comes out, go see it. If it’s half as interesting as his lecture it will be worth it), I’ve started to get very interested in learning about the state of the art in understanding the climate and how it’s changing.
The short answer is somewhere between “real trouble” and “REALLY BIG trouble.” But I’d like to understand things a bit more specifically than that.
To that end, I’ve started to assemble a list of papers that seem to represent the current state-of-the-art in the field, and this list is sure to grow as I read through more of them and follow reference chains. In fact, I’m planning on posting something soon with a generally readable summary of one of them.
But this got me thinking: Learning a subject is better done with many people. Would anyone be interested in forming an impromptu online journal club to learn about climate modelling, climate change, and all things related? (For those of you who haven’t participated in these before, what would be involved is everyone picking a paper, [or part of one for a really long paper] reading it thoroughly enough to write a good summary and explain everything that goes on in it, and then posting their summary and having a discussion about it. A typical rate is every week, someone else is responsible for a paper. It’s a great way to learn a new technical subject.)
The minimum background for doing this seems to be a reasonable science or engineering background; from what I’ve read of the papers so far, they don’t have a lot of obscure jargon beyond “stratosphere” and “sea ice,” just a lot of graphs, plots, and discussion of how they got them. For those without a heavy tech background, it should still be possible (and fun, and interesting) to be part of the discussion.
I’ve got a few papers in my list already, from the GISS-E group:
- Hansen et al., “Earth’s energy imbalance: Confirmation and implications.” Science 308, 1431-1435, doi:10.1126/science.1110252. [This is a short paper that I’ll probably post about in a few days no matter what. This article was considered a “gold standard” model at the time, and it’s still pretty recent.]
- Hansen et al., “Dangerous human-made interference with climate: A GISS modelE study.” J. Geophys. Res., submitted. [This is a bigger paper, the Hansen groups latest systematic model-of-everything. I’m reading it right now and it looks like a good gateway to the rest of the literature]
- Hansen et al., “Efficacy of climate forcings.” J. Geophys. Res. 110, D18104, doi:10.1029/2005JD005776. [This paper seems to be the one where they actually calculate and define a lot of the underlying parameters, like how much each type of substance affects each physical process. I suspect it will be very interesting]
- Schmidt et al., “Present day atmospheric simulations using GISS ModelE: Comparison to in-situ, satellite and reanalysis data.”, J. Climate 19, 153-192, doi:10.1175/JCLI3612.1. [This paper is the standard reference on the GISS-E model, which appears to be the current standard climate modelling code used by international agencies. No idea how interesting the paper will be.]
Edit: It now exists: . Join up!