Open Thread

Apologies for my silence recently – I just finished writing some final exams that I missed for the AGU conference, so I’ve been studying hard ever since Boxing Day.

I am working on a larger piece about climate models: an introduction to how they work and why they are useful. That will take about a week to finish, so in the mean time, here is an open thread to keep things moving.

Some possible discussion topics from posts I’ve enjoyed:

Enjoy!

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Self-Taught Climate Science

If you haven’t already guessed, I am a real math and science geek (and rapidly becoming a computer programming geek as well). So, when I got my first taste of quantitative climate analysis from Dana’s articles over at Skeptical Science, I was really interested. It will be a while before my education takes me in that direction, and I’m starting to think I’m not that patient. I would like to learn some relevant physics and programming ahead of time.

Here is my list of plans and resources, roughly in order of priority:

  • Learn Fortran. The majority of code in climate models is written in Fortran, and this probably isn’t going to change any time soon. I have begun studying an online Fortran 77 tutorial, and am finding that learning a second programming language is far easier than the first (Java, in my case). The major concepts are virtually identical – it’s all a case of syntax.
  • Read and do problems from some relevant chapters in my physics textbook that we will not be covering in the course: fluid dynamics and thermodynamics.
  • Follow through, in detail, a derivation of a zero-dimensional energy balance model for the Earth that was kindly sent to me by a reader.
  • Read David Archer’s textbook, Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast. I attempted to read it a year or two ago, but I hadn’t done very much physics yet and consequently became kind of lost (“Electrons are waves?!” the younger Kate said incredulously). Dr. Archer has also posted accompanying video lectures from the University of Chicago course the book is based on, which will help.
  • Try to find a copy of Ray Pierrehumbert’s new book, Principles of Planetary Climate. From what I have heard, this will involve learning some Python.
  • I have several textbooks on loan or second hand, two regarding climate physics, and one about general atmospheric dynamics.

That will probably keep me busy for some time, but I would appreciate recommendations for additions/changes!