Updating the Climate Science

What Path is the Real World Following?

Makiko Sato & James Hansen

Columbia University Earth Institute
475 Riverside Drive
New York, NY 10115
web page maintained by Makiko Sato (mhs119@columbia.edu)

Our aim is to help people understand global climate change — and how the factors that drive climate are changing.

We start with climate diagnostics — people are usually most interested in climate change itself. But cause-and-effect analysis requires also data on climate forcings (which drive climate change) and feedbacks (which amplify or diminish climate change).

We update graphs of "Storms of My Grandchildren." Yet the greatest insight about processes discussed in "Storms" is often provided by other quantities, for example, the rate of ice sheet disintegration. We include some data from other scientists or their web sites, as indicated.

Continual updating of data curves, whether global temperature, the Greenland ice sheet mass, the sun's brightness, Keeling's carbon dioxide record, or other more obscure quantities, is a most interesting aspect of science. Sometimes data curves follow an expected path, sometimes not, but we usually learn something. As Richard Feynman said, there is a pleasure of finding things out.

That pleasure is now mixed with concern. Humans are altering the measured curves. But whether climate change will be moderate — something humans and most species can adjust to — or whether climate change accelerates and spins out of control, with devastating consequences for future generations — that depends.

Future climate depends on how climate forcings change — human-made greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, and forcings that are not yet well measured, especially aerosols. The speed and degree of climate change also will depend upon how fast amplifying feedbacks, such as Arctic sea ice, the large ice sheets, and methane hydrates come into play.

Construction of this web site is just beginning. But already there are interesting new data.

"Storms of My Grandchildren" by James Hansen

Critical Climate Diagnostics and Feedbacks

Climate Forcings


Recent Publications

Global Temperature Change (2010)

Earth's Energy Imbalance (2011)

Paleoclimate Implications (2012)

Perceptions and Dice (2012 and 2013)

Climate Forcing Growth Rates (2013)

Climate Sensitivity (2013)

Assessing "Dangerous Climate Change" (2013)