Climate science focuses on the behavior of the climate system, which consists of the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, the cryosphere, the lithosphere, and the cryosphere. Climate variability results from changes within and among these components as well as changes in their interactions. As such, the climate system exhibits substantive internal variability across scales of time and space. The climate system is also sensitive to changes in external forcing, which include long-term changes in the Earth’s orbital parameters as well as anthropogenic changes in atmospheric trace gas concentrations. Changes in both internal and external forcing can also be accompanied by complex feedbacks whereby initial forcings are either amplified (positive feedback) or suppressed (negative feedback) by subsequent climate system processes. Like all sciences, the tools of climate science are theory, observation, and modeling.
General overviews of the Earth’s climate are available at all readership levels. Introductory textbooks, such as Wallace and Hobbs 2006 and Aguado and Burt 2014 are used in many university classrooms and provide a good overview of both meteorology and climatology. These texts provide a basic foundation for understanding the Earth’s climate. Rohli and Vega 2013 focuses on climatology and its subfields and provides a clear distinction between meteorology and climatology. A broader perspective, which appropriately places contemporary and future climate in its historical context is provided by Ruddiman 2013. Given the rapid growth of both climate monitoring and climate modeling capabilities, climate assessments have become important mechanisms for establishing the state of the science. The key assessments have been those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), such as IPCC 2013, which provide regular updates on both large-scale and regional climate changes, as well as advancements in understanding of climate system processes in the context of past and future climate changes. National assessments, such as the United States National Climate Assessment (Melillo, et al. 2014) serve as a voice for the strong scientific consensus regarding the anthropogenic contribution to recent climate change and also address stakeholder interests in potential impacts of climate variability and change.
Aguado, E., and J. Burt. 2014. Understanding weather and climate. 7th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
An introductory textbook covering fundamental aspects of planetary climate as well as introduction to contemporary climate science issues.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 2013. Climate change 2013: The physical science basis: Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Edited by T. F. Stocker, D. Qin, G. -K. Plattner, et al. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.
The latest of the comprehensive physical science assessments from the IPCC, this volume reviews the state of knowledge related to all aspects of change within the climate system as well as projections of future climate based on state of the art modeling. Also see Future Climate.
Melillo, Jerry M., Terese Richmond, and Gary W. Yohe, eds. 2014. Climate change impacts in the United States: The Third National Climate Assessment. U.S. Global Change Research Program.
The most recent national climate assessment for the United States is focused on current and future impacts of climate change in the United States on a regional basis.
Rohli, R. V, and A. J. Vega. 2013. Climatology. 3d ed. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Learning.
An introductory text aimed at providing a comprehensive foundation of the Earth’s climate system. Much of the material focuses on traditional climatology topics such as regionalization, climate classification, the water balance, and spatial climate variability.
Ruddiman, W. F. 2013. Earth’s climate: Past and future. 3d ed. New York: Freeman.
An overview of factors governing climate across the timescales comprising the entirety of Earth’s 4.6 billion year history. Ruddiman describes tectonic and orbital effects on climate as well as deglacial, millennial, and historical changes. This book places contemporary climate change within the context of natural climate variability. Also see Paleoclimate.
Wallace, J. M., and P. V. Hobbs. 2006. Atmospheric science: An introductory survey. 2d ed. New York: Academic.
An introductory atmospheric science text that includes excellent sections on radiative transfer, climate dynamics, and thermodynamics.
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- Accounting for Ecological Capital
- Allocation of Reproductive Resources in Plants
- Animals, Functional Morphology of
- Animals, Reproductive Allocation in
- Animals, Thermoregulation in
- Antarctic Environments and Ecology
- Applied Ecology
- Aquatic Conservation
- Aquatic Nutrient Cycling
- Archaea, Ecology of
- Assembly Models
- Bacterial Diversity in Freshwater
- Benthic Ecology
- Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning
- Biodiversity Patterns in Agricultural Systms
- Biological Chaos and Complex Dynamics
- Biome, Alpine
- Biome, Boreal
- Biome, Desert
- Biome, Grassland
- Biome, Savanna
- Biome, Tundra
- Biomes, African
- Biomes, East Asian
- Biomes, Mountain
- Biomes, North American
- Biomes, South Asian
- Bryophyte Ecology
- Butterfly Ecology
- Carson, Rachel
- Chemical Ecology
- Classification Analysis
- Coastal Dune Habitats
- Communities and Ecosystems, Indirect Effects in
- Communities, Top-Down and Bottom-Up Regulation of
- Community Concept, The
- Community Ecology
- Community Genetics
- Community Phenology
- Competition and Coexistence in Animal Communities
- Competition in Plant Communities
- Complexity Theory
- Conservation Biology
- Conservation Genetics
- Coral Reefs
- Darwin, Charles
- De-Glaciation, Ecology of
- Disease Ecology
- Drought as a Disturbance in Forests
- Early Explorers, The
- Earth’s Climate, The
- Eco-Evolutionary Dynamics
- Ecological Dynamics in Fragmented Landscapes
- Ecological Informatics
- Ecology, Microbial (Community)
- Ecosystem Engineers
- Ecosystem Multifunctionality
- Ecosystem Services
- Ecosystem Services, Conservation of
- Elton, Charles
- Endophytes, Fungal
- Energy Flow
- Environments, Extreme
- Ethics, Ecological
- Facilitation and the Organization of Communities
- Fern and Lycophyte Ecology
- Fire Ecology
- Food Webs
- Foraging Behavior, Implications of
- Foraging, Optimal
- Forests, Temperate Coniferous
- Forests, Temperate Deciduous
- Freshwater Invertebrate Ecology
- Genetic Considerations in Plant Ecological Restoration
- Genomics, Ecological
- Geographic Range
- Gleason, Henry
- Greig-Smith, Peter
- Gymnosperm Ecology
- Habitat Selection
- Harper, John L.
- Heavy Metal Tolerance
- Himalaya, Ecology of the
- Host-Parasitoid Interactions
- Human Ecology
- Human Ecology of the Andes
- Hutchinson, G. Evelyn
- Insect Ecology, Terrestrial
- Introductory Sources
- Invasive Species
- Island Biogeography Theory
- Island Biology
- Kin Selection
- Landscape Dynamics
- Landscape Ecology
- Laws, Ecological
- Legume-Rhizobium Symbiosis, The
- Leopold, Aldo
- Lichen Ecology
- Life History
- Literature, Ecology and
- MacArthur, Robert H.
- Mangrove Zone Ecology
- Marine Fisheries Management
- Mathematical Ecology
- Mating Systems
- Maximum Sustainable Yield
- Metabolic Scaling Theory
- Metacommunity Dynamics
- Metapopulations and Spatial Population Processes
- Mutualisms and Symbioses
- Mycorrhizal Ecology
- Natural History Tradition, The
- Networks, Ecological
- Niche Versus Neutral Models of Community Organization
- Nutrient Foraging in Plants
- Ordination Analysis
- Organic Agriculture, Ecology of
- Parental Care, Evolution of
- Patch Dynamics
- Phenotypic Selection
- Philosophy, Ecological
- Phylogenetics and Comparative Methods
- Physiological Ecology of Nutrient Acquisition in Animals
- Physiological Ecology of Photosynthesis
- Physiological Ecology of Water Balance in Terrestrial Anim...
- Plant Disease Epidemiology
- Plant Ecological Responses to Extreme Climatic Events
- Polar Regions
- Pollination Ecology
- Population Dynamics, Density-Dependence and Single-Species
- Population Dynamics, Methods in
- Population Fluctuations and Cycles
- Population Genetics
- Population Viability Analysis
- Populations and Communities, Dynamics of Age- and Stage-St...
- Predation and Community Organization
- Predator-Prey Interactions
- Reductionism Versus Holism
- Religion and Ecology
- Remote Sensing
- Restoration Ecology
- Ricketts, Edward Flanders Robb
- Seed Ecology
- Serpentine Soils
- Shelford, Victor
- Soil Biogeochemistry
- Soil Ecology
- Spatial Pattern Analysis
- Spatial Patterns of Species Biodiversity in Terrestrial En...
- Species Extinctions
- Species Responses to Climate Change
- Species-Area Relationships
- Stability and Ecosystem Resilience, A Below-Ground Perspec...
- Stoichiometry, Ecological
- Stream Ecology
- Systems Ecology
- Tansley, Sir Arthur
- Terrestrial Resource Limitation
- Thermal Ecology of Animals
- Tragedy of the Commons
- Trophic Levels
- Vegetation Classification
- Vegetation Mapping
- Weed Ecology
- Whittaker, Robert H.
- Wildlife Ecology