The American Institute of Physics’s (Neils Bohr Library) has a focus on how the phenomenon of global warming has been researched and discovered. This includes milestones in a timeline.

This is how it begins:

Level of carbon dioxide gas (CO2) in the atmosphere, as later measured in ancient ice, is about 290 ppm

Mean global temperature (1850-1890) is roughly 13.6°C. 

First Industrial Revolution. Coal, railroads, and land clearing speed up greenhouse gas emission, while better agriculture and sanitation speed up population growth.

Fourier proposes that the Earth would be far colder if it lacked an atmosphere. =>Simple models

Tyndall demonstrates that some gases block infrared radiation, and notes that changes in the concentration of the gases could bring climate change. =>Other gases

International Meteorological Organization begins to compile and standardize global weather data, including temperature. =>International

Arrhenius publishes first calculation of global warming from human emissions of CO2. =>Simple models


As today – March 8th – is International Women’s Day, it seems appropriate to point out that Eunice Foot is missing from this timeline. In 1856 Foote showed that gases in the atmosphere were affected by the Sun’s radiation in different ways, and of all the gases she tested, it was carbon dioxide that trapped the most heat.  As noted in the timeline, in 1859, UK physicist John Tyndall independently demonstrated the same effects, and published his results, including data on how the absorption of radiant heat differed from gas to gas.  Foote’s work was not published, and she wasn’t allowed to present her findings to fellow scientists as no woman could do that in the USA at the time.

There’s more detail here.

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