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Title: Making the science of global warming : a social history of climate science in Britain
Author: Kim, Sang Hyun
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2004
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This study describes the development of climate science in Britain during the period from the 1950s to mid 1980s, with particular respect to the topic of CO2-induced global warming. The study of climate and of its variations had traditionally been descriptive and regionally oriented, and regarded more or less as a minor branch of meteorology. With advances in numerical methods and computing technology, however, climate science was gradually transformed into a highly physics-based and mathematical science. By the late 1970s, climate science, became dominated largely by dynamical meteorologists, atmospheric physicists and physical oceanographers, armed with complex physico-mathematical modelling as a principal methodology. It was not that other approaches did not exist. In the 1960s and early 1970s, observational studies of climate such as those cultivated by Hubert Lamb, and simple climate modelling studies focusing on climate sensitivity and feedback processes, played a far more important role in raising the issues of climate change, both natural and anthropogenic. However, mainstream meteorologists and dynamical climatologists, who occupied a higher status within the cultural hierarchy of science, firmly believed that climate and its change could only be studied properly using numerical models of the large-scale atmospheric circulation – i.e. general circulation models (GCMs). This cultural hierarchy constrained the way in which the modern science of global climate change was developed and the issue of CO2-induced global warming was understood and investigated. Such a tendency was particularly strong in Britain. Nevertheless, the resulting GCM-based science of global warming was by no means homogeneous. This thesis argues that different institutional goals, different national political environments, different understandings of how to relate to policy, and the hierarchical relations between scientific subcultures all combined to produce different paths and styles of global warming research.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available