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Author Topic: The Great Victorian Weather Wars  (Read 1719 times)

OldLeatherneck

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The Great Victorian Weather Wars
« on: August 09, 2015, 05:33:03 PM »
Fascinating article in the New York Times Sunday Review by Peter Moore about Professor John Tyndall's significant contributions to the understanding of heat trapping gases.  This article also gives a brief introduction into early days of Meteorology and one of it's early proponents, Robert FitzRoy, a veteran of the Royal Navy who first coined the term "forecast" when predicting near-term weather events:

Full article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/09/opinion/sunday/the-great-victorian-climate-debate.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&version=Moth-Visible&module=inside-nyt-region%C2%AEion=inside-nyt-region&WT.nav=inside-nyt-region

Quote
ThE history of today’s climate change debate may have begun on Feb. 7, 1861. That day, an Irish physicist named John Tyndall, a professor of natural philosophy, delivered the annual Bakerian Lecture to the Royal Society in London.


John Tyndall studied subjects that were new in the 1800s, like glaciation, radiation and sound.

Credit Science & Society Picture Library, via Getty Images

Quote
His experiments had shown that gases like oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen retained very little heat. But others, particularly carbon dioxide, absorbed surprising amounts of radiation — “nearly 100 times as much as oxygen,” he said.

For the sharp minds in the hall, the implication of Tyndall’s discovery was clear. The higher the concentrations of absorptive gases in the atmosphere, the higher atmospheric temperatures would be. Thus was laid the theoretical foundation for climate science — though few could have envisioned that, more than 150 years later, Tyndall’s discovery would be one of the great political debates of the day.

Tyndall’s was not the only contribution that year to our understanding of earth’s climate and its threats. That bleak winter week in 1861 was a stormy one. As Tyndall spoke, Atlantic gales were tearing across England, from the Irish coast to the North Sea. A 10-minute walk from where Tyndall was giving his lecture in London, a veteran of the Royal Navy, Robert FitzRoy, was embarking on an audacious meteorological experiment.

Tyndall knew FitzRoy. They mixed in London’s intellectual circles and had served on the same British Association committee. For the previous seven years, too, FitzRoy had been making a name for himself, as head of the British government’s new Meteorological Department.

NOTE:  I could have just as easily posted this in the Science category, however, since the title included Weather Wars" I chose to post it here.  As always, Neven is more than welcome to move this topic as he sees fit.
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