About this Blog
This blog is meant to discuss the physics of planetary climate and the principles governing atmospheric dynamics Some emphasis will be placed on contemporary climate change, given its immense interest to the general public and scientific community alike, although my plan is to span a broader class of problems (beginning with standard treatment of “textbook” physical principles that are often only developed in a classroom setting). Application of these physical principles will then be used to dissect some of the details of past climates (for instance, the evolution of Venus’ climate, or “snowball Earth”), possible futures of Earth’s climate, and the prospective habitability of extrasolar planets. This last topic, in particular, has emerged in recent years given the ability to detect Earth-to-Neptune sized planets outside are solar system. Recent or pioneering papers in climate, geology, astronomy or other sub-disciplines will be used to guide the discussions.
Some of these posts I intended to develop in a technical fashion. As such, my intended audience are those with some mathematical and scientific background, although not necessarily in atmospheric science. Standard calculus literacy and comfort in translating words into symbols/equations should make everything in this blog accessible, though I hope to fill in the physical links with words as well, for those without such training. All posts will be open for questions as well. With that said, I hope to develop a diverse audience, and hope for input from fellow graduate students in the field or expert researchers.
There are many blogs and websites on the internet that discuss modern climate change from different angles. Personally, I have a broader interest in the subject of understanding and characterizing the behavior of atmospheres; for instance, I tend to view modern global warming as just one of many possible examples of atmospheric behavior that emerges from the laws of physics. Of course, the fact that the causal agents are sentient creatures (along with the socio-economic implications) makes it a problem that extends beyond physics. I will leave the politics, ethics, non-scientific controversies, etc to other forums. However, the science itself can be applied just as much to past climate change or climates of other planets, or even to specialized applications such as satellite imagery, how heat-seeking missiles are built, and so forth.
Because of the heavy focus on climate change on the internet, there is often a disproportionate interest in only those first-order mechanisms important for climate change (e.g., the basic radiative interaction between infrared light and carbon dioxide) or even in global temperature, without much focus on the global hydrologic cycle or atmosphere/ocean dynamics. I think it will be worth giving attention to these elements in order to promote a broader understanding of the processes which conspire to maintain the equilibrium climate. Moreover, I am often left unsatisfied with wikipedia-style or even classroom/textbook explanations of “broad concepts” like the planetary greenhouse effect, the water vapor feedback to climate change, and so forth. The descriptions are often qualitative and supplemented with misconceptions, miss important steps in logic, or emphasize mechanisms that are of secondary relevance. Sometimes these inadequacies even propagate into the research environment. I think an important void exists between these type of presentations and reality, and I look forward to help fill in that void.
All blog comments will be moderated. I have had experience with a blog in the past, where such moderation existed but no rules were enforced. It did not work, and my aim is not to have a free-for-all in what is discussed. Accordingly, comments will be enforced for relevance and to maintain a level of discussion that is appropriate for an intelligent audience. I will not censor comments simply because they disagree with me or others. However, completely off-topic remarks, name-calling, inappropriate language, accusations, and non-scientific contributions will be deleted. I will try to edit your comments once to inform you that you are breaking rules, but after that your comment will simply not appear. I will also not engage in debates concerning the fairness of my rules.