How will future climates be different from today's world – and what consequences will changes in climate have for societies and their development strategies? Climate Change Science is a primer on the essential science for grasping the workings of climate change and climate prediction. It is accessible for readers with little to no background in science, with an emphasis on the needs of those studying sustainable development.
John C. Mutter gives a just-the-facts overview of how the climate system functions and what we know about why changes occur. He recounts the evolution of climatology from the earliest discoveries about Earth's climate to present-day predictive capabilities, and clearly presents the scientific basis of fundamental topics such as climate zones, ocean-atmosphere dynamics, and the long-term cycles from glacial to interglacial periods. Mutter also details the mechanisms of climate change and the ways in which human activity affects global climate. He explains the science behind some known consequences of rising temperatures, such as sea level rise, hurricane behavior, and climate variability. The primer discusses how climate predictions are made and examines the sources of uncertainty in forecasting. Climate Change Science is a straightforward and easy-to-read treatment of the fundamental science needed to comprehend one of today's most important issues.
Introduction: Strategy and Outline of the Primer
1. Why Does Earth Have the Climate It Does?
2. Precipitation, Winds, Atmospheric Pressure, and the Origin of Climate Zones
3. Climate Dynamics: Natural Variations
4. Climate in the Future
5. Earth’s Responses to Climate Change
6. Climate and Sustainable Development: Summary and Closing Remarks
John C. Mutter is a professor at Columbia University with appointments in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and in the School of International and Public Affairs. He was previously deputy director of the Earth Institute. He is the author of The Disaster Profiteers: How Natural Disasters Make the Rich Richer and the Poor Even Poorer (2015).
"It is rare to find a book that succinctly explains the scientific basis for one of the greatest challenges humanity has ever faced. For anyone looking to learn the foundations of climate science, Mutter's primer is an excellent jump start. He covers an expansive number of topics gracefully, providing readers with the key scientific concepts at the heart of each issue."
– Solomon Hsiang, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley
"John C. Mutter earned an outstanding reputation as a marine geophysicist at Columbia's Lamont Observatory, and then turned his interest to the effects of natural and manmade disasters on humankind. His recent focus extends to the major problems looming from future climate change. His primer is a succinct review of the physics behind climate change, along with summaries of glacial-interglacial climate cycles, ENSO events, and what the future will hold."
– William F. Ruddiman, professor emeritus, Department of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia
"Mutter guides the reader to an understanding of Earth's climate, starting with the big picture of how the system works, to the nuances of climate variability and predictions of the future using computer models, and ultimately to future uncertainty and the substantial risks that human-induced climate change will impose on society. This is a clearly written, readable account supported by understandable diagrams of elegant simplicity."
– Edmond A. Mathez, curator and professor emeritus, American Museum of Natural History, and coauthor of Climate Change: The Science of Global Warming and Our Energy Future
"Climate Change Science provides the reader with a perfect primer to best understand Earth's complex climate system. The reader is carefully guided through the various processes influencing our climate system and how humans are significantly disturbing this system. Strongly recommended to anyone seeking a clear picture of Earth's climate system."
– Jeffrey T. Kiehl, climate scientist and author of Facing Climate Change: An Integrated Path to the Future