Join getAbstract to access the summary!

Beyond Global Warming

Join getAbstract to access the summary!

Beyond Global Warming

How Numerical Models Revealed the Secrets of Climate Change

Princeton UP,

15 min read
9 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

A study of climate modeling that aims at science researchers and scholars.

Editorial Rating



  • Scientific
  • For Experts
  • Insider's Take


This history of climate modeling will appeal to scholars. It explores the insights climate models have produced over two centuries. As computing power accelerated in the 1970s and beyond, scientists have deployed increasingly sophisticated models. The most powerful simulate a range of variables, including absorbed and reflected sun rays, CO2 levels, water vapor, cloud cover, and the effect of ice and snow on the atmospheric greenhouse effect. These models prove useful in predicting future climate conditions, depending on emissions and their concentrations in the atmosphere.


Humans alone account for the current warming of the planet.

Fully 750 t0 550 million years ago, ice covered Earth. Just 20,000 years ago, at the peak of the last glacial period, ice stretched from the arctic through much of North America and Europe. Over the past 1,500 years, prior to the Industrial Revolution, the climate on Earth has remained stable. With the onset of the Industrial Revolution and its reliance on fossil fuels – about three centuries ago – humankind has raised average temperatures by 1º Celsius [1.8 °F], a proven scientific fact.

Buildup of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere accelerates warming. CO2 has increased more in the past century than in the previous two, and more in the past few decades than in the past few centuries. In the next 80 years, temperature increases will likely reach 2ºC or even 3ºC.

This rate of warming will change weather patterns around the planet, eroding glaciers, reducing or increasing rainfall, raising sea levels and causing havoc. Climate models, which scientists construct from weather models, have proven the best tools for understanding the climate, forecasting climate change...

About the Authors

Meteorologist Syukuro Manabe leads Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at Princeton University. Professor Anthony Broccoli teaches environmental sciences at Rutgers University.

Comment on this summary