We can't understand the climate system without data.......

we won't have data unless we record it.

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"How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when clearly it is Ocean”

- -  Arthur C. Clarke
           Nature, 1990

Related Files

» Endowment_for_climate_observations_37844.pdf
Copy of the Baker, Schmitt and Wunsch article on "Endowments and New Institutions for Long Term Observations" from the December 2007 issue of Oceanography magazine.

» orlando_oceansciences_2008_37743_37846.ppt
This is Carl Wunsch's PowerPoint presentation at the March 2008 Ocean Sciences Meeting in Orlando.

» Endowed_Observation_37845.ppt
This is Ray Schmitt's PowerPoint presentation at the March 2008 Ocean Sciences Meeting in Orlando.

The need for long term observations

Much of the present uncertainty about our climate system is associated with the very brief records we have on temperature, pressure, humidity and rainfall.  There is natural variability in the climate system along with a changing anthropogenic impact.  How will we ever sort out these effects without good long-term records of the physical state of the Earth?  We certainly could not test ideas about the physics of a 10 second surface wave with only 10 seconds of data.  Nor can we sort out climate trends from oscillations with only a few years of data.  The vast heat capacity of the oceans, 1100 times that of the atmosphere, imposes a centennial to millenial time scale on climate.  Clearly, we won't be able to understand and predict climate without sufficiently long time-series observations at many locations around the globe.


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Last updated June 6, 2008
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