The idea of this project is to build a reconstruction of the first ever global climate model. The original model was developed in 1895, by a Swedish scientist, Svante Arrhenius. Most histories of climate science credit him with the discovery of global warming, although at the time he was really trying to prove that a drop in carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere could have caused the ice ages. His model was at least fifty years ahead of its time, both scientifically and computationally - most notably, there were no digital computers at the time, so all his calculations were done by hand. The model is interesting today because it demonstrates some subtle properties of the greenhouse effect, beyond what is taught in most classrooms. So far as I can discover, nobody has attempted a modern-day reconstruction of his model. The goal of this project is to implement his model in a modern programming language, and put it on the web so that students learning about climate change can run it and see what it does. Depending on interest, the project could also include building a graphical front end to illustrate how the model works, and to develop variants of the model that incorporate more recent data, e.g. satellite measurements of carbon dioxide concentrations and infra-red absorption.
The project is open ended. A working program should be relatively straightforward for a reasonably competent programmer. Further enhancements (e.g. web design, graphical representations, etc) will depend on interest and ability. We could also attempt to track down original notebooks and other sources from these scientists, and explore variants of the original model.
Open, depending on interest and commitment.
Any discipline. Requires a student with competent programming skills, and an interest in (or willingness to learn) the history of science and the early development of climate science. Experience with web design and graphical user interfaces would also be helpful.
Professor, Computer Science
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