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Atmosphere, Economy, and Their Holistic Framings in the Twentieth Century and Beyond  

Robert Luke Naylor

Despite apocalyptic discourse surrounding climate change since the 1970s, climate and weather have a longer history of being conceptualized as useful entities in the Anglophone world. The adversities of the Great Depression and hopes for a better postwar future led to climate being designated as a limitless resource—an object integral to the national economy that organizations, most notably governments, could draw upon to operate more effectively, especially against adversity. With a resurgence of neo-Malthusian perspectives in the 1970s, fears over resource scarcity reframed atmospheric resources as being strictly limited, and the concurrent rise of environmentalism challenged the idea that the atmosphere should be seen as a useful entity for industry. Instead, the economy–atmosphere relationship increasingly began to be framed through climate impact assessments, which analyzed the ability of climatic changes to perturb human systems. In addition, economic fragmentation, marketization, and privatization challenged the concept of national resources, meaning that by the end of the 1980s, the idea of the atmospheric resource had fallen from vogue. In the context of such marketization, the meteorological applications industry experienced rapid growth, leading some to advocate seeing the sector as a weather forecasting enterprise to encourage a renewed integrated perspective on weather impacts, forecasts, and policy. In contrast, in 2015, scholars identified how climate change has been reconstructed as a market transition by political and business elites, as climate change came to be seen as a market opportunity that was disconnected from goings-on in the material atmosphere. This disconnection can be seen as the culmination of a long process of conceptually disintegrating economy from the material atmosphere that began with the dismantling of the atmospheric resource concept.

Article

Chinese Meteorology During World War II  

Fang-yu Liu

Meteorology and military activities in China were closely interrelated during World War II. When the Second Sino-Japanese War broke out in 1937, the Nationalist government, under ferocious assault by the Japanese military, withdrew deep into the Chinese interior. Meteorological research organizations and the air force also relocated to Sichuan, the latter setting up weather stations in the southwest and the northwest and reorganizing the armed forces’ meteorological intelligence system while the former made use of the resulting meteorological data to research various weather phenomena in western China, thereby shifting the focus of meteorology in China away from the coastal regions. However, by the start of World War II, aviation had already become an important means of waging war, and high-altitude weather data was highly sought after as military intelligence. Consequently, after instigating the war, Japan extended its meteorological stations in northwest China, engaged in high-altitude surveying and observation, and created an information system between the Japanese home territory and colonies. Japanese analysis of the resulting weather data maintained the safety of flight routes and was used for formulating military strategy. The Chinese government, in contrast, having recently relocated and with a weak air force, lacked the power to expand research on aeronautical meteorology during the initial phase of the war. It was not until after becoming allied with the United States in December 1941 that the government was able, with American technical support, to begin expanding meteorological observation posts and conducting high-altitude surveying and observation. Moreover, the inauguration of flights over the aerial supply route known as the Hump resulted in the discovery of the jet stream over the towering mountain ranges of southwestern China. World War II opened up the Chinese interior for meteorological research and, as a result of military applications, brought about greater understanding of high-altitude meteorology.

Article

Syukuro Manabe: Recipient of Nobel Prize in Physics 2021  

Antonio Navarra

Syukuro Manabe was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2021 for his work on climate modeling. The Prize recognizes an exceptional career that pioneered a new area of the scientific enterprise revealing the power of numerical simulations and methods for advancing scientific discovery and producing new knowledge. Manabe contributed decisively to the creation of the modern scientific discipline of climate science through numerical modeling, stressing clarity of ideas and simplicity of approach. He described in no uncertain terms the role of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the impact of changes in the radiation balance of the atmosphere caused by the anthropogenic increase of such gases, and he revealed the role of water vapor in the greenhouse effect. He also understood the importance of including all the components of the climate system (the oceans, sea ice, and land surface) to reach a comprehensive treatment of the mechanisms of climate in a general circulation model, paving the way to the modern earth system models and the establishment of climate modeling as a leading scientific discipline.

Article

Climatic Determinism and the Conceptualization of the Tropics in British India  

Rituparna Ray Chowdhury

The geographic concept of tropicality emerged as an operative tool in the colonizing efforts of the European powers in the 18th and 19th centuries. Since the colonizing encounters proved fatal for many Europeans in South Asia, particularly during the initial phase of settlement when their mortality rate was far higher than that of the natives, attempts were made to understand the impact of the tropical climate upon the Western constitution. Based on the ancient Hippocratic doctrines of humoral pathology and the narrative of Enlightenment thinkers, colonial medical professionals endeavored to determine a correlation between health and environment. According to Western classical understanding, health was dependent upon various climatic and environmental factors. With the prevailing perception that the oppressive climatic conditions of India and its hazardous disease-infused environs were inimical to the survival of the Anglo-Indians in South Asia, the ancient concept of climatic determinism was revitalized during the colonial period. This theory, which argued that people tended to resemble the dominant characteristics of the climate in which they lived, proved convenient at a time of aggressive expansion, when moral grounds were required for justifying the Western designs of conquest and exploitation. Explanations like environmental determinism encouraged conjectures that the tropical climate of India bred only “lazy” and “degenerative” people, in contrast to the “manly” and “strong” individuals of the temperate zone. This notion, with its insidious veneer of rationality, facilitated a justification of the ideology of imperial colonization, while also discouraging permanent settlement of the European colonizers upon Indian soil.

Article

Coordination of Regional Downscaling  

William Joseph Gutowski and Filippo Giorgi

Regional climate downscaling has been motivated by the objective to understand how climate processes not resolved by global models can influence the evolution of a region’s climate and by the need to provide climate change information to other sectors, such as water resources, agriculture, and human health, on scales poorly resolved by global models but where impacts are felt. There are four primary approaches to regional downscaling: regional climate models (RCMs), empirical statistical downscaling (ESD), variable resolution global models (VARGCM), and “time-slice” simulations with high-resolution global atmospheric models (HIRGCM). Downscaling using RCMs is often referred to as dynamical downscaling to contrast it with statistical downscaling. Although there have been efforts to coordinate each of these approaches, the predominant effort to coordinate regional downscaling activities has involved RCMs. Initially, downscaling activities were directed toward specific, individual projects. Typically, there was little similarity between these projects in terms of focus region, resolution, time period, boundary conditions, and phenomena of interest. The lack of coordination hindered evaluation of downscaling methods, because sources of success or problems in downscaling could be specific to model formulation, phenomena studied, or the method itself. This prompted the organization of the first dynamical-downscaling intercomparison projects in the 1990s and early 2000s. These programs and several others following provided coordination focused on an individual region and an opportunity to understand sources of differences between downscaling models while overall illustrating the capabilities of dynamical downscaling for representing climatologically important regional phenomena. However, coordination between programs was limited. Recognition of the need for further coordination led to the formation of the Coordinated Regional Downscaling Experiment (CORDEX) under the auspices of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP). Initial CORDEX efforts focused on establishing and performing a common framework for carrying out dynamically downscaled simulations over multiple regions around the world. This framework has now become an organizing structure for downscaling activities around the world. Further efforts under the CORDEX program have strengthened the program’s scientific motivations, such as assessing added value in downscaling, regional human influences on climate, coupled ocean­–land–atmosphere modeling, precipitation systems, extreme events, and local wind systems. In addition, CORDEX is promoting expanded efforts to compare capabilities of all downscaling methods for producing regional information. The efforts are motivated in part by the scientific goal to understand thoroughly regional climate and its change and by the growing need for climate information to assist climate services for a multitude of climate-impacted sectors.

Article

The Development of Climate Science of the Baltic Sea Region  

Anders Omstedt

Dramatic climate changes have occurred in the Baltic Sea region caused by changes in orbital movement in the earth–sun system and the melting of the Fennoscandian Ice Sheet. Added to these longer-term changes, changes have occurred at all timescales, caused mainly by variations in large-scale atmospheric pressure systems due to competition between the meandering midlatitude low-pressure systems and high-pressure systems. Here we follow the development of climate science of the Baltic Sea from when observations began in the 18th century to the early 21st century. The question of why the water level is sinking around the Baltic Sea coasts could not be answered until the ideas of postglacial uplift and the thermal history of the earth were better understood in the 19th century and periodic behavior in climate related time series attracted scientific interest. Herring and sardine fishing successes and failures have led to investigations of fishery and climate change and to the realization that fisheries themselves have strongly negative effects on the marine environment, calling for international assessment efforts. Scientists later introduced the concept of regime shifts when interpreting their data, attributing these to various causes. The increasing amount of anoxic deep water in the Baltic Sea and eutrophication have prompted debate about what is natural and what is anthropogenic, and the scientific outcome of these debates now forms the basis of international management efforts to reduce nutrient leakage from land. The observed increase in atmospheric CO2 and its effects on global warming have focused the climate debate on trends and generated a series of international and regional assessments and research programs that have greatly improved our understanding of climate and environmental changes, bolstering the efforts of earth system science, in which both climate and environmental factors are analyzed together. Major achievements of past centuries have included developing and organizing regular observation and monitoring programs. The free availability of data sets has supported the development of more accurate forcing functions for Baltic Sea models and made it possible to better understand and model the Baltic Sea–North Sea system, including the development of coupled land–sea–atmosphere models. Most indirect and direct observations of the climate find great variability and stochastic behavior, so conclusions based on short time series are problematic, leading to qualifications about periodicity, trends, and regime shifts. Starting in the 1980s, systematic research into climate change has considerably improved our understanding of regional warming and multiple threats to the Baltic Sea. Several aspects of regional climate and environmental changes and how they interact are, however, unknown and merit future research.

Article

El Niño and Society  

George Adamson

The El Niño Southern Oscillation is considered to be the most significant form of “natural” climate variability, although its definition and the scientific understanding of the phenomenon are continually evolving. Since its first recorded usage in 1891, the meaning of “El Niño” has morphed from a regular local current affecting coastal Peru, to an occasional Pacific-wide phenomenon that modifies weather patterns throughout the world, and finally to a diversity of weather patterns that share similarities in Pacific heating and changes in trade-wind intensity, but exhibit considerable variation in other ways. Since the 1960s El Niño has been associated with the Southern Oscillation, originally defined as a statistical relationship in pressure patterns across the Pacific by the British-Indian scientist Gilbert Walker. The first unified model for the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) was developed by Jacob Bjerknes in 1969 and it has been updated several times since, but no simple model yet explains apparent diversity in El Niño events. ENSO forecasting is considered a success, but each event still displays surprising characteristics.

Article

Evolving Paradigms of Climatic Processes and Atmospheric Circulation Affecting Africa  

Sharon E. Nicholson

Classic paradigms describing meteorological phenomena and climate have changed dramatically over the last half-century. This is particularly true for the continent of Africa. Our understanding of its climate is today very different from that which prevailed as recently as the 1960s or 1970s. This article traces the development of relevant paradigms in five broad areas: climate and climate classification, tropical atmospheric circulation, tropical rain-bearing systems, climatic variability and change, and land surface processes and climate. One example is the definition of climate. Originally viewed as simple statistical averages, it is now recognized as an environmental variable with global linkages, multiple timescales of variability, and strong controls via earth surface processes. As a result of numerous field experiments, our understanding of tropical rainfall has morphed from the belief in the domination by local thunderstorms to recognition of vast systems on regional to global scales. Our understanding of the interrelationships with land surface processes has also changed markedly. The simple Charney hypothesis concerning albedo change and the related concept of desertification have given way to a broader view of land–atmosphere interaction. In summary, there has been a major evolution in the way we understand climate, climatic variability, tropical rainfall regimes and rain-bearing systems, and potential human impacts on African climate. Each of these areas has evolved in complexity and understanding, a result of an explosive growth in research and the availability of such investigative tools as satellites, computers, and numerical models.

Article

The Genesis and Evolution of European Union Framework Programmes on Climate Science  

Elisabeth Lipiatou and Anastasios Kentarchos

Although the first European Union Framework Programme (FP) for research and technological development was created in 1984, it was the second FP (FP2) in 1987 that devoted resources to climatological research for the first time. The start of FP2 coincided with the establishment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 1988, aimed at providing a comprehensive assessment on the state of knowledge of the science of climate change. FP-funded research was not an end in itself but a means for the European Union (EU) to achieve common objectives based on the principle of cross-border research cooperation and coordination to reduce fragmentation and effectively tackle common challenges. Since 1987, climate science has been present in all nine FPs (as of 2023) following an evolutionary process as goals, priority areas, and financial and implementation instruments have constantly changed to adapt to new needs. A research- and technology-oriented Europe was gradually created including in the area of climate science. There has historically been a strong intrinsic link between research and environmental and climate policies. Climate science under the FPs, focusing initially on oceans, the carbon cycle, and atmospheric processes, has increased tremendously both in scope and scale, encompassing a broad range of areas over time, such as climate modeling, polar research, ocean acidification, regional seas and oceans, impacts and adaptation, decarbonization pathways, socioeconomic analyses, sustainability, observations, and climate services. The creation and evolution of the EU’s FPs has played a critical role in establishing Europe’s leading position on climate science by means of promoting excellence, increasing the relevance of climate research for policymaking, and building long-lasting communities and platforms across Europe and beyond as international cooperation has been a key feature of the FPs. No other group of countries collaborates on climate science at such scale. Due to their inherited long-term planning and cross-national nature, the FPs have provided a stable framework for advancing climate science by incentivizing scientists and institutions with diverse expertise to work together, creating the necessary critical mass to tackle the increasing complex and interdisciplinary nature of climate science, rationalizing resource allocation, and setting norms and standards for scientific collaboration. It is hard to imagine in retrospect how a similar level of impact could have been achieved solely at a national level. Looking ahead and capitalizing on the rich experience and lessons learned since the 1980s, important challenges and opportunities need to be addressed. These include critical gaps in knowledge, even higher integration of disciplines, use of new technologies and artificial intelligence for state-of-the-art data analysis and modeling, capturing interlinkages with sustainable development goals, better coordination between national and EU agendas, higher mobility of researchers and ideas from across Europe and beyond, and stronger interactions between scientists and nonscientific entities (public authorities, the private sector, financial institutions, and civil society) in order to better communicate climate science and proactively translate new knowledge into actionable plans.

Article

Historical Understandings of Weather and Society, From the Everyday to the Extreme  

Alexander Hall

Throughout history human societies have been shaped and sculpted by the weather conditions that they faced. More than just the physical parameters imposed by the weather itself, how individuals, communities, and whole societies have imagined and understood the weather has influenced many facets of human activity, from agriculture to literary culture. Whether through direct lived experiences, oral traditions and stories, or empirical scientific data these different ways of understanding meteorological conditions have served a multitude of functions in society, from the pragmatic to the moral. While developments made in the scientific understanding of the atmosphere over the last 300 years have been demonstrably beneficial to most communities, their rapid onset and spread across different societies often came at the expense of older ways of knowing. Therefore, the late 20th century turn to emphasizing the importance of and interrogating and incorporating of traditional ecological knowledge within meteorological frameworks and discourses was essential. This scholarly research, underway across a number of disciplines across the humanities and beyond, not only aides the top-down integration and reach of mitigation and adaptation plans in response to the threat posed by anthropogenic climate change; it also enables the bottom-up flow of forgotten or overlooked knowledge, which helps to refine and improve our scientific understanding of global environmental systems.

Article

History of Convective Storm Science  

Charles A. Doswell III

Convective storms are the result of a disequilibrium created by solar heating in the presence of abundant low-level moisture, resulting in the development of buoyancy in ascending air. Buoyancy typically is measured by the Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE) associated with air parcels. When CAPE is present in an environment with strong vertical wind shear (winds changing speed and/or direction with height), convective storms become increasingly organized and more likely to produce hazardous weather: strong winds, large hail, heavy precipitation, and tornadoes. Because of their associated hazards and their impact on society, in some nations (notably, the United States), there arose a need to have forecasts of convective storms. Pre-20th-century efforts to forecast the weather were hampered by a lack of timely weather observations and by the mathematical impossibility of direct solution of the equations governing the weather. The first severe convective storm forecaster was J. P. Finley, who was an Army officer, and he was ordered to cease his efforts at forecasting in 1887. Some Europeans like Alfred Wegener studied tornadoes as a research topic, but there was no effort to develop convective storm forecasting. World War II aircraft observations led to the recognition of limited storm science in the topic of convective storms, leading to a research program called the Thunderstorm Product that concentrated diverse observing systems to learn more about the structure and evolution of convective storms. Two Air Force officers, E. J. Fawbush and R. C. Miller, issued the first tornado forecasts in the modern era, and by 1953 the U.S. Weather Bureau formed a Severe Local Storms forecasting unit (SELS, now designated the Storm Prediction Center of the National Weather Service). From the outset of the forecasting efforts, it was evident that more convective storm research was needed. SELS had an affiliated research unit called the National Severe Storms Project, which became the National Severe Storms Laboratory in 1963. Thus, research and operational forecasting have been partners from the outset of the forecasting efforts in the United States—with major scientific contributions from the late T. T. Fujita (originally from Japan), K. A. Browning (from the United Kingdom), R. A. Maddox, J. M. Fritsch, C. F. Chappell, J. B. Klemp, L. R. Lemon, R. B. Wilhelmson, R. Rotunno, M. Weisman, and numerous others. This has resulted in the growth of considerable scientific understanding about convective storms, feeding back into the improvement in convective storm forecasting since it began in the modern era. In Europe, interest in both convective storm forecasting and research has produced a European Severe Storms Laboratory and an experimental severe convective storm forecasting group. The development of computers in World War II created the ability to make numerical simulations of convective storms and numerical weather forecast models. These have been major elements in the growth of both understanding and forecast accuracy. This will continue indefinitely.

Article

History of the Hydrometeorological Service of Belarus  

Irina Danilovich, Raisa Auchynikava, and Victoria Slonosky

The first weather observations within the modern territory of Belarus go back to ancient times and are found as mentions of weather conditions in chronicles. Hydrometeorology in those times was not a defined science but connected to the everyday needs of people in different regions. In the period from 1000 to 1800, there were first efforts to document outstanding weather conditions and phenomena. They are stored in chronicles, books, and reports. The first instrumental observations started in the early 1800s. They have varying observing practices and periods of observations. The hydrometeorological network saw the active expansion of observations in the following century, but the network was destroyed at the beginning of the civil war (1917–1922). Five years later, hydrometeorological activity resumed, and the foundation of meteorological services of the Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic (RSFSR) was initiated. The next years saw a complicated Belarusian hydrometeorological service formation and reorganization. The meteorological bureau was formed in 1924, and this year is considered the official date of the Hydrometeorological Service of Belarus foundation, despite multiple changes in title and functions during its course. During the Great Patriotic War (1941–1945) people’s courage and efforts were directed to saving the existing network of hydrometeorological observations and providing weather services for military purposes. The postwar period was characterized by the implementation of new methods of weather forecasting and new forms of hydrometeorological information. Later decades were marked by the invention and implementation of new observational equipment. The Hydrometeorological Service of Belarus in this period was a testing ground within the Soviet Union for the development of meteorological tools and devices. The current Hydrometeorological Service of Belarus is described as an efficient, modern-equipped, and constantly developing weather service.

Article

History of Typhoon Science  

Aitor Anduaga

A typhoon is a highly organized storm system that develops from initial cyclone eddies and matures by sucking up from the warm tropical oceans large quantities of water vapor that condense at higher altitudes. This latent heat of condensation is the prime source of energy supply that strengthens the typhoon as it progresses across the Pacific Ocean. A typhoon differs from other tropical cyclones only on the basis of location. While hurricanes form in the Atlantic Ocean and eastern North Pacific Ocean, typhoons develop in the western North Pacific around the Philippines, Japan, and China. Because of their violent histories with strong winds and torrential rains and their impact on society, the countries that ring the North Pacific basin—China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and Taiwan—all often felt the need for producing typhoon forecasts and establishing storm warning services. Typhoon accounts in the pre-instrumental era were normally limited to descriptions of damage and incidences, and subsequent studies were hampered by the impossibility of solving the equations governing the weather, as they are distinctly nonlinear. The world’s first typhoon forecast was made in 1879 by Fr. Federico Faura, who was a Jesuit scientist from the Manila Observatory. His brethren from the Zikawei Jesuit Observatory, Fr. Marc Dechevrens, first reconstructed the trajectory of a typhoon in 1879, a study that marked the beginning of an era. The Jesuits and other Europeans like William Doberck studied typhoons as a research topic, and their achievements are regarded as products of colonial meteorology. Between the First and Second World Wars, there were important contributions to typhoon science by meteorologists in the Philippines (Ch. Deppermann, M. Selga, and J. Coronas), China (E. Gherzi), and Japan (T. Okada, and Y. Horiguti). The polar front theory developed by the Bergen School in Norway played an important role in creating the large-scale setting for tropical cyclones. Deppermann became the greatest exponent of the polar front theory and air-masses analysis in the Far East and Southeast Asia. From the end of WWII, it became evident that more effective typhoon forecasts were needed to meet military demands. In Hawaii, a joint Navy and Air Force center for typhoon analysis and forecasting was established in 1959—the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC). Its goals were to publish annual typhoon summaries and conduct research into tropical cyclone forecasting and detection. Other centers had previously specialized in issuing typhoon warnings and analysis. Thus, research and operational forecasting went hand in hand not only in the American JTWC but also in China (the Hong Kong Observatory, the Macao Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau), Japan (the Regional Specialized Meteorological Center), and the Philippines (Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Service Administration [PAGASA]). These efforts produced more precise scientific knowledge about the formation, structure, and movement of typhoons. In the 1970s and the 1980s, three new tools for research—three-dimensional numerical cloud models, Doppler radar, and geosynchronous satellite imagery—provided a new observational and dynamical perspective on tropical cyclones. The development of modern computing systems has offered the possibility of making numerical weather forecast models and simulations of tropical cyclones. However, typhoons are not mechanical artifacts, and forecasting their track and intensity remains an uncertain science.

Article

The Indian Ocean Dipole  

Saji N. Hameed

Discovered at the very end of the 20th century, the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is a mode of natural climate variability that arises out of coupled ocean–atmosphere interaction in the Indian Ocean. It is associated with some of the largest changes of ocean–atmosphere state over the equatorial Indian Ocean on interannual time scales. IOD variability is prominent during the boreal summer and fall seasons, with its maximum intensity developing at the end of the boreal-fall season. Between the peaks of its negative and positive phases, IOD manifests a markedly zonal see-saw in anomalous sea surface temperature (SST) and rainfall—leading, in its positive phase, to a pronounced cooling of the eastern equatorial Indian Ocean, and a moderate warming of the western and central equatorial Indian Ocean; this is accompanied by deficit rainfall over the eastern Indian Ocean and surplus rainfall over the western Indian Ocean. Changes in midtropospheric heating accompanying the rainfall anomalies drive wind anomalies that anomalously lift the thermocline in the equatorial eastern Indian Ocean and anomalously deepen them in the central Indian Ocean. The thermocline anomalies further modulate coastal and open-ocean upwelling, thereby influencing biological productivity and fish catches across the Indian Ocean. The hydrometeorological anomalies that accompany IOD exacerbate forest fires in Indonesia and Australia and bring floods and infectious diseases to equatorial East Africa. The coupled ocean–atmosphere instability that is responsible for generating and sustaining IOD develops on a mean state that is strongly modulated by the seasonal cycle of the Austral-Asian monsoon; this setting gives the IOD its unique character and dynamics, including a strong phase-lock to the seasonal cycle. While IOD operates independently of the El Niño and Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the proximity between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and the existence of oceanic and atmospheric pathways, facilitate mutual interactions between these tropical climate modes.

Article

Meteorological History and Historical Climate of China  

Jie Fei

The Chinese meteorological records could be traced back to the oracle-bone inscriptions of the Shang Dynasty (c. 1600 bc–c. 1046 bc). For the past 3,000 years, continuous meteorological records are available in official histories, chronicles, local gazetteers, diaries, and other historical materials. Ever since the Qin Dynasty (221–207 bc), precipitation reports to the central government were officially organized; however, only those of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912 ad) are extant, and they have been widely used to reconstruct precipitation variability. Modern meteorological knowledge began to be introduced in China during the late Ming Dynasty (1368–1644 ad). Modern meteorological observation possibly began in the 17th century, whereas continuous meteorological observation records go back to the mid-19th century. Previous researches have reconstructed the chronologies of the temperature change in China during the past 2,000 years, and the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age were identified. With regard to precipitation variability, yearly charts of dryness/wetness in China for the past 500 years were produced. Several chronologies of dust storm, plum rain (Meiyu), and typhoon were also established. Large volcanic eruptions resulted in short scale abrupt cooling in China during the past 2,000 years. Climatic change was significantly related to the war occurrences and dynastic cycles in historical China.

Article

Meteorology, Climate, and Health in the United States  

Elaine LaFay

Unraveling the connections between meteorology, climate, and health—all broadly defined—is an endeavor that cuts across an astonishing array of times, places, and peoples. How societies pursue and interpret these connections is deeply tied to sociocultural, environmental, and political context. In the United States, meteorological beliefs rested on shared assumptions rooted in ancient traditions that linked prevailing environmental and climatic conditions with human health. By the 17th century, the steadfast collection of meteorological phenomena in weather journals was tethered to medical knowledge as well as the pursuit of agricultural, business, and shipping ventures. Environmental conditions were routinely theorized as causes for epidemics and individual sickness (or cure). As meteorology changed from a practice of data collection to a science over the 18th and 19th centuries, its medical arm branched into the interlocking fields of medical meteorology, medical climatology, and medical topography. However, even with the rise of new meteorological technologies and methods, older ways of knowing the weather persisted alongside formal medical theories of health and place, and tacit, embodied knowledge was never fully supplanted by instrumental data collection. The science of meteorology also grew into being as a tool of empire. Imperial states established networks of meteorological stations to collect weather data to further colonial ambitions and foster politically charged geographic imaginaries of colonized places and peoples. But theorizing the relationship between climate and health was not restricted to white men of science. Black intellectuals and subaltern peoples held radically different cosmologies of climate and challenged prevailing essentialist theories of climate and health throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. In the 20th century, scientists situated changing climates as a key dimension for disease patterns and demographic transition more broadly. As historians make use of the increasingly sophisticated methods of historical climatology, past climate reconstruction has sparked new questions on how environmental conditions have both enabled and constrained human action during climate—and political, infrastructural—disasters. New interdisciplinary approaches to the climate crisis have further offered ways to bridge the disconnect between climate science and medical practice that emerged during the 20th century.

Article

Meteorology in Vietnam, Pre-1850  

Hieu Phung

The emergence of meteorology in Vietnam did not begin in 1898–1899, with the French installation of a central meteorological observatory in Phù Liễn, near Hải Phòng, and a network of meteorological stations across Indochina. Prior to the colonial time, the ethnic Vietnamese, as well as other ethnic groups such as the Cham, Muong, and Tay-Thai, developed their own knowledge of meteorological phenomena that functioned within their farming practices and cultural frameworks. While further research concerning traditional meteorological knowledge of minority groups in Vietnam is needed, substantial evidence allows a preliminary survey on the practices of the ethnic Vietnamese. Between 1000 and the 1850s, the Vietnamese expanded outwards from their original homeland in the lowlands of north and north-central Vietnam. They adopted the written language, thought systems, and technologies of imperial China, which predisposed them to an enduring Chinese-style meteorological ideology. The Vietnamese viewed weather extremes and other natural anomalies not merely as natural processes. Because meteorological phenomena were “Heaven-sent” warnings of cosmological disasters, Vietnamese dynastic rulers, as well as local farmers and rice producers, interpreted these signs as a demand for moral change. Redressing the authorities’ governance, according to their view, helped rehabilitate the equilibrium of the cosmos. Hence, the records of weather events in Vietnamese historical documents do not simply describe the conditions of past weather, but more importantly, the situations in which the cosmos was no longer in balance. One need not assume that premodern meteorology lacked material grounds. In Vietnam, meteorological knowledge and practices were strongly associated with wet rice cultivation. Vietnamese authorities maintained official agencies to produce yearly calendars that traced proper timing for rice crops, while the populace accumulated experience-based knowledge about seasonal rainfall. Intellectuals, too, expanded their interests to include meteorological knowledge because the subject enriched their philosophy of nature, as in the case of Confucian thinker Lê Quý Đôn (1726–1784), or their medical practices, as in the case of physician Lê Hữu Trác (1720–1791). The advances of Southeast Asian paleoclimate reconstruction since the beginning of the 21st century have added new ideas and methodologies to the study of premodern meteorology in Vietnam. A stronger partnership between climate scientists and historians will therefore facilitate more sophisticated investigations into the knowledge and practices that the Vietnamese developed to respond to weather and climate dynamics.

Article

On Frequently Used Terms Related to Climate Change  

Guoyu Ren and Hans von Storch

Using terms with the same meaning is a precondition of academic exchange and coordinated international actions to cope with the global climate issue. However, the understanding and usage of some terms in the climate change field are incompatible among researchers, policymakers, and publics. In particular, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change have used significantly different definitions of climate change, which may result in unforeseen problems in coping with the global climate issue. Also, when referring to future changes, the terms climate change projection and climate prediction are frequently used inconsistently. Other terms not always used with the same meaning are global warming, global change, global climate change, abrupt climate change, climate change monitoring, climate change detection, and climate change attribution. With respect to the term climate change, it is suggested that it be defined in academic circles as a change in any key climate variables or climate extremes on timescales of multidecades or longer periods caused by any drivers (natural or human and external or internal), whereas the term climate variability should be used to refer to variations on all the spectrums of frequency provoked by natural internal drivers or on high-frequency spectrums caused by natural external drivers. Following the IPCC terminology, it is suggested that climate change projection be defined as estimating possible evolutions of the climate state in the future on scales of decades or longer, based on development scenarios and climate models, with the estimate considered possible, internally consistent, but not necessarily probable. It is also suggested that the term anthropogenic climate change be used to express large-scale climate change caused by various human activities, especially global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions from human activities and the corresponding changes in other components of the climate system as noted in the IPCC reports and international climate negotiations.

Article

Quaternary Climate Variation in West Africa  

Timothy M. Shanahan

West Africa is among the most populated regions of the world, and it is predicted to continue to have one of the fastest growing populations in the first half of the 21st century. More than 35% of its GDP comes from agricultural production, and a large fraction of the population faces chronic hunger and malnutrition. Its dependence on rainfed agriculture is compounded by extreme variations in rainfall, including both droughts and floods, which appear to have become more frequent. As a result, it is considered a region highly vulnerable to future climate changes. At the same time, CMIP5 model projections for the next century show a large spread in precipitation estimates for West Africa, making it impossible to predict even the direction of future precipitation changes for this region. To improve predictions of future changes in the climate of West Africa, a better understanding of past changes, and their causes, is needed. Long climate and vegetation reconstructions, extending back to 5−8 Ma, demonstrate that changes in the climate of West Africa are paced by variations in the Earth’s orbit, and point to a direct influence of changes in low-latitude seasonal insolation on monsoon strength. However, the controls on West African precipitation reflect the influence of a complex set of forcing mechanisms, which can differ regionally in their importance, especially when insolation forcing is weak. During glacial intervals, when insolation changes are muted, millennial-scale dry events occur across North Africa in response to reorganizations of the Atlantic circulation associated with high-latitude climate changes. On centennial timescales, a similar response is evident, with cold conditions during the Little Ice Age associated with a weaker monsoon, and warm conditions during the Medieval Climate Anomaly associated with wetter conditions. Land surface properties play an important role in enhancing changes in the monsoon through positive feedback. In some cases, such as the mid-Holocene, the feedback led to abrupt changes in the monsoon, but the response is complex and spatially heterogeneous. Despite advances made in recent years, our understanding of West African monsoon variability remains limited by the dearth of continuous, high- resolution, and quantitative proxy reconstructions, particularly from terrestrial sites.

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The Role of the American Meteorological Society in Climate Science  

Keith L. Seitter

The American Meteorological Society (AMS) is one of the premier international scientific societies covering the atmospheric and related sciences and has been for over 100 years. Throughout its history, the AMS has organized scientific meetings and conferences that have supported the discussion and debate of topics in climate science (as well as other topics in the atmospheric and related sciences) and has used its publications to disseminate the scientific results of those working in climate science. AMS publications have been especially important in providing information to the entire scientific community on major global research programs. Since 1995, AMS has collaborated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to publish an annual “State of the Climate” report that chronicles Earth’s changing climate, and since 2011, the AMS has published an annual series that assesses extreme events from a climate perspective. The position of the AMS on scientific and policy issues is provided by periodic statements issued by the AMS, and many AMS statements have addressed issues related to climate, including the human influence on climate change. While the official AMS position on climate change has been consistent with the scientific consensus, the AMS has provided a platform for challenges to the consensus, as long as those challenges meet an adequate threshold of scientific rigor, which fosters debate that advances the science further. The AMS also works to reduce the politicization of climate science and has consistently maintained a strong position on the integrity of science. Throughout, the AMS has served as a trusted resource for policymakers and the public on climate science and aspects of global change.