Kevin E. Trenberth emphasizes the fundamental role of energy flows in the climate system and anthropogenic climate change. The distribution of heat, or more generally, energy, is the main determinant of weather patterns in the atmosphere and their impacts. The topics addressed cover many facets of climate and the climate crisis. These include the diurnal cycle; the seasons; energy differences between the continents and the oceans, the poles and the tropics; interannual variability such as Niño; natural decadal variability; and ice ages. Human-induced climate change rides on and interacts with all of these natural phenomena, and the result is an unevenly warming planet and changing weather extremes. The Changing Flow of Energy Through the Climate System emphasizes the need to not only slow or stop climate change, but also to better prepare for it and build resilience. Students, researchers, and professionals from a wide range of backgrounds will benefit from this deeper understanding of climate change.
1. Earth and Climate System
2. Earth's Energy Imbalance and Climate Change
3. Earth's Energy Balance
4. The Sun-Earth System
5. Observations of Temperature, Moisture, Precipitation and Radiation
6. The Climate System
7. The Weather Machine
8. The Dynamic Ocean
9. Poleward Heat Transports by the Atmosphere and Ocean
10. The Changing Hydrological Cycle
11. Teleconnections and Patterns of Variability
12. El Niño
13. Feedbacks and Climate Sensitivity
14. Earth's Energy Imbalance Estimates
15. Attribution and the Hiatus
16. Prediction and Projection
17. Emissions and Information
18. Climate Change and Environmental Issues
References and further reading
Dr Kevin E. Trenberth is a Distinguished Scholar at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). He was a Lead Author of the 1995, 2001, and 2007 Scientific Assessment Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize which went to the IPCC and Al Gore. He served from 1999 to 2006 on the Joint Scientific Committee of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP). He chaired the WCRP Observation and Assimilation Panel from 2004 to 2010 and the Global Energy and Water Exchanges (GEWEX) Scientific Steering Group from 2010-2013 (member 2007-14). He has also served on many US national committees. He is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), the American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Geophysical Union (AGU), and an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand Te Aparangi. In 2000 he received the Jule G. Charney Award from the AMS; in 2003 he was given the NCAR Distinguished Achievement Award; in 2013 he was awarded the Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water, and he received the Climate Communication Prize from AGU. In 2017 he was honoured with the Roger Revelle medal by the AGU.
"Kevin Trenberth is one of the world's premier climate scientists [...] [He] has an extraordinary ability to take the complicated scientific dynamics of global warming and communicate what's happening in a clear and compelling way [...] I highly value the way he not only informs, but also motivates action [...] an essential read to understand the underlying scientific dynamics of the climate crisis."
– Al Gore, former Vice President; from the foreword to the book
"Nobody has contributed more to our understanding of climate change than Kevin Trenberth. In this book, Trenberth uses the concept of energy flows to explain, in accessible terms, how Earth's climate system operates and how it's being profoundly impacted by human-generated carbon emissions. Read this book to be informed about the basic science underlying the defining challenge of our time."
– Michael E. Mann, Penn State University; author of The New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back Our Planet
"Authoritative, rigorous, well written, and nicely illustrated, Trenberth's book is a welcome addition to the non-specialist literature on climate change. It should be suitable as a possible textbook for graduate courses in climate change and climate dynamics, and appealing to the reader willing to invest the time and effort required to understand the scientific principles that determine how the climate system will respond to the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere."
– John M. Wallace, University of Washington
"Trenberth is the world's greatest master-gatherer of climate data; he orders and translates it into beautifully rendered illustrations that can be followed by everyone. If you do not understand a figure, just go to his accompanying prose and you will. He understands every contour of the data. He teaches us through the lens of energetic reservoirs and fluxes among the various climate system components and how they are forced to move about, grow or shrink. What a treat it is."
– Gerald R. North, Texas A&M University
"Trenberth's The Changing Flow of Energy through the Climate System is an important new textbook on global warming. It is highly accessible and includes a wide range of informative color figures. The introductory chapters give a broad overview of the Earth's climate system that will complement other textbooks on the subject. The chapters on flows of energy go beyond many other publications and provide a deeper understanding of topics such as patterns of natural variability. It is an up-to-date and timely publication, coinciding as it does with the latest Assessment Report from the IPCC."
– Matt Smith, University of Worcester
"Understanding the changes occurring in the Earth's energy budget underlies understanding of our changing climate. This excellent book builds on the many highly acknowledged research papers Kevin has written on this and related topics of the physics associated with our climate system to explain the depths of the science, while doing it in a way that it readable by the non-expert. And yet, there is much in it of value to all of us, including the experienced scientist."
– Donald J. Wuebbles, University of Illinois
"I read Kevin's book in August 2021 while visiting family in Greece, away from my home in California, at a time when both regions were devastated by fires following persistent drought and the worst heat waves in decades. Kevin's book emphasizes physical concepts behind these accelerating extremes. He very nicely describes the need to 'stabilize the energy flow of our climate system' and build resilience for the disasters ahead. The easy-to-read style of Kevin's book is a welcome and very timely addition for scientists, non-scientists and decision-makers, alike. He reminds us that it is only by the people of the world working together that we can address this crisis and save humanity on our Spaceship Earth."
– Efi Foufoula-Georgiou, University of California, Irvine
"Kevin Trenberth is not only one of the world's foremost scholars on climate change, but also among the best at communicating this science. Kevin doesn't just take the reader through the science, but also does a masterful job at laying the foundation upon which the climate change story is built. This is a perfect book for atmospheric and climate science students, as well as for scientifically literate members of the general public who want a true dive into the fundamentals of climate change."
– Paul Gross, CCM, CBM; WDIV-TV Meteorologist; Fellow, American Meteorological Society