Interdisciplinary Collaboration

This new emphasis on scientific interdisciplinarian-ism was demonstrated with the 1977 founding of the journal, Climatic Change. This end of knowledge fragmentation and the increased collaboration among disparate fields helped fuel the growth of climatology as a scientific discipline. System interrelatedness was obvious by the mid-1970s, and the symbiosis of meteorology, mathematics, computer science, geophysics, chemistry, biology, and other relevant sciences evolved into an all-encompassing discipline under the academic rubric of Earth sciences.

This systems emphasis and interdisciplinary collaboration, augmented by advances in computer technology, expanded climatology from a restrictive, predominantly statistically-based descriptive applied climatology, to include a physical-mathematical modeling discipline with predictive global capability. The International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP), founded in 1986 and based at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, sought to bring international interdisciplinary cooperation to the study of the global environment.

An important result of this system-based analysis was that the old concept of a normal climatic period gave way to the idea that the climate is dynamic and always changing. During the 1960s, J. Murray Mitchell Jr., a climatologist with various federal agencies and then with NOAA, asserted that human (androgenic) actions influence climate positively and negatively and warned that the negative human influence was apparent in what he determined to be statistically significant global warming. Though it was initially unclear to Mitchell if human atmospheric pollution, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2), might lead to drastic global warming or cooling, it was clear to him that this pollution was radically affecting the global climate and that technological and sociological intervention where necessary to avert a disaster. By the mid-1970s, Mitchell and other scientists became convinced that the real danger was global warning, and not global warming.

The history of climatology was dominated by the global warming debate during the last 30 years of the 20th century. By the beginning of the 21st century, climatology was dominated by computer modeling, and by the assumption that the proper way to understand global warming, as well as regional climates and weather patterns, was by understanding the climate system of the whole planet. This change was reflected in the emergence of the new subdisciplines of climatology: climate change, bioclimatology, paleoclima-tology, and applied climatology.

sEE ALso: Bryson, Reid; Climate; Climate Cycles; Computer Models; Historical Development of Climate Models; Lorenz, Edward.

BIBLIogRAPHY. Neville Brown, History and Climate Change: A Eurocentric Perspective (Routledge, 2001); J.R. Fleming, Historical Perspectives on Climate Change (Oxford University Press, 1998); H.H. Lamb, Climate, History and the Modern World (Routledge, 1995); Matthys Levy, Why the Wind Blows: A History of Weather and Global Warming (Upper Access, Inc., Book Publishers, 2007); S.R. Weart, The Discovery of Global Warming (Harvard University Press, 2004).

Richard Milton Edwards University of Wisconsin Colleges Milwaukee School of Engineering

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