I find top ten lists of the year tedious. Nobody knows what is important about a year writing from within that year, except in the most extreme cases.
Herewith my top ten (or so) list of climate-science related events of the 20th century in chronological order. Off the top of my head. Any suggestions for stuff I’ve missed?
Stay tuned for the next in this series on New Year’s Eve 2110!
ca. 1900: Bjerknes identifies the “primitive equations”, the enhanced Navier-Stokes system for the atmosphere (including moisture state changes and rotational dynamics). Lays out a program for scientific meteorology.
1938: Callendar, G.S. “The Artificial Production of Carbon Dioxide and Its Influence on Climate.” Quarterly J. Royal Meteorological Society 64: 223-40. (h/t WVhybrid) Callendar was the first to get a good quantitative understanding of the situation.
1942: Sverdrup; generalized linear theory of oceanography
1950: Charney Fjortoft and von Neumann: the first computer simulation of the atmosphere
1955: Suess, Hans E. finds the istopic fingerprint. “Radiocarbon Concentration in Modern Wood.” Science 122: 415-17 (h/t WVhybrid)
1958: Charles Keeling’s Mauna Loa CO2 time series begins (h/t Nosmo)
1963: Lorenz’ treatise “The General Circulation of the Atmosphere“
1963: Lorenz paper brings “chaos” into physical sciences
1966: Arakawa first publishes on his global atmospheric model
1968: Bryan & Cox first global ocean dynamics model
1969: Bryan & Manabe first idealized-geography coupled climate dynamics model
1975: Bryan & Manabe first realistic coupled climate dynamics model
1975: Manabe & Wetherald first computational assessment of anthropogenic global warming (h/t Kooiti Masuda)
1975: Wally Broecker paper “Climate Change: Are we on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?” (h/t Kooiti Masuda)
1979: The Charney commission reports on the threat of global warming. concurring Jason report also written in 1979 with similar conclusions. These reports are quite similar to the IPCC position today.
1983: Luyten and Pedlosky: theoretical explanation of deep ocean flow
1990: IPCC first Assessment Report: “Thus the observed increase could be largely due to this natural variability; alternatively this variability and other human factors could have offset a still larger human-induced greenhouse warming. The unequivocal detection of the enhanced greenhouse effect is not likely for a decade or more.”
1992: UNCED “Earth Summit” conference at Rio de Janiero and foundation of UNFCCC: committed signatories’ governments to a voluntary “non-binding aim” to reduce atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases with the goal of “preventing dangerous anthropogenic interference with Earth’s climate system.”
1997: Kyoto protocol; A set of steps which, if implemented, would have left us far better off today, was signed by all parties, but never ratified by the USA. The senate was nearly unanimous in opposition. Mostly honored in the breach.
1998: Unprecedented amplitude El Nino event; the start of climate disruption?