Climate change journal club, anyone?

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.]

Anyone interested?

Edit: It now exists: . Join up!

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Published in: on April 30, 2006 at 20:30  Comments (32)  
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32 Comments

  1. Sounds like a good idea! Would it be on LJ?
    I’m working on getting some sort of a regular schedule into my life, but I would be interested in checking it out.
    (and I am very amused that this is your new interest. 🙂 )

  2. Sounds like a good idea! Would it be on LJ?
    I’m working on getting some sort of a regular schedule into my life, but I would be interested in checking it out.
    (and I am very amused that this is your new interest. 🙂 )

  3. I was thinking of setting up a community for it. Want to join up?
    (And is it that odd? Given my tastes for physical science, computation, and politics, it seems like the natural thing 🙂

  4. I was thinking of setting up a community for it. Want to join up?
    (And is it that odd? Given my tastes for physical science, computation, and politics, it seems like the natural thing 🙂

  5. As soon as you set one up and give me a link, I’ll join up. Let me know if you’d like help doing comm setup (membership moderation options, etc).
    (Not that odd, perhaps, but it’s definitely a different focus than you had in college. I think it’s good!)

  6. As soon as you set one up and give me a link, I’ll join up. Let me know if you’d like help doing comm setup (membership moderation options, etc).
    (Not that odd, perhaps, but it’s definitely a different focus than you had in college. I think it’s good!)

  7. Let me know when the community is up: i’m definitely interested, but i might have a hard time keeping up regularly.
    (I am reminded of my attempt to start a Art of Computer Programming reading group. 75 people on a mailing list, and you could hear the e-crickets chirp every week after my “This week’s sections are…” It went real well.)

  8. Let me know when the community is up: i’m definitely interested, but i might have a hard time keeping up regularly.
    (I am reminded of my attempt to start a Art of Computer Programming reading group. 75 people on a mailing list, and you could hear the e-crickets chirp every week after my “This week’s sections are…” It went real well.)

  9. I am interesting in learning about this, but worried that I’d flake out. Can I sign on as a reader and contribute if/when possible?

  10. I am interesting in learning about this, but worried that I’d flake out. Can I sign on as a reader and contribute if/when possible?

  11. Me too, for all of the above.

  12. Me too, for all of the above.

  13. Yeah, I know. But if we jump in with some vigor, we may be able to get through a few papers, at least, before the crickets kick in.

  14. Yeah, I know. But if we jump in with some vigor, we may be able to get through a few papers, at least, before the crickets kick in.

  15. Sure! I’ll try to set up something so people can sign up for papers when they can.

  16. Sure! I’ll try to set up something so people can sign up for papers when they can.

  17. I’m very very interested in this, Yonatan, as per my earlier email to you. Please keep me in the loop, here. LJ community would be a great medium for me, but I’m open.

  18. I’m very very interested in this, Yonatan, as per my earlier email to you. Please keep me in the loop, here. LJ community would be a great medium for me, but I’m open.

  19. Random coincidental find:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/04/a-correction-with-repercussions/
    Would be interesting to examine this paper as support of “the other side”.

  20. Random coincidental find:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/04/a-correction-with-repercussions/
    Would be interesting to examine this paper as support of “the other side”.

  21. I’d like to participate in this whole endeavor, but my current class schedule is kind of forbidding in regards to doing much extracurricular reading.
    I would also be interested in being a reader who might sign up over the summer.
    Rich

  22. I’d like to participate in this whole endeavor, but my current class schedule is kind of forbidding in regards to doing much extracurricular reading.
    I would also be interested in being a reader who might sign up over the summer.
    Rich

  23. I’d be interested, especially if you set up a system whereby I could volunteer as I found time on my hands, and just lurk the rest of the time. 🙂 I’ve cut completely back on LJ (Aaron had to point me to this post, although I actually need to move you to my front page with the rest of the science, technology, politics, etc feeds), which has left me with a smidgen more time to keep up on science and technology news.

  24. I’d be interested, especially if you set up a system whereby I could volunteer as I found time on my hands, and just lurk the rest of the time. 🙂 I’ve cut completely back on LJ (Aaron had to point me to this post, although I actually need to move you to my front page with the rest of the science, technology, politics, etc feeds), which has left me with a smidgen more time to keep up on science and technology news.

  25. Well, my planned system is to set up an LJ community, maintain a list of papers somewhere, and try to get a volunteer every so often. So lurking should be just fine. 🙂

  26. Well, my planned system is to set up an LJ community, maintain a list of papers somewhere, and try to get a volunteer every so often. So lurking should be just fine. 🙂

  27. Excellent. 🙂 *lurk*

  28. Excellent. 🙂 *lurk*

  29. S: Different focus than he had in college how so? My take is that he’s concluded that global climate change will destroy global civilization even faster than global civilization is already destroying itself. From my vantage point, that would be enough to turn Yony’s attention *overnight*.
    Y: Care to comment?

  30. S: Different focus than he had in college how so? My take is that he’s concluded that global climate change will destroy global civilization even faster than global civilization is already destroying itself. From my vantage point, that would be enough to turn Yony’s attention *overnight*.
    Y: Care to comment?

  31. What, me apocalyptic? 🙂

  32. What, me apocalyptic? 🙂


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