The Global Carbon Cycle

Princeton University Press
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The Global Carbon Cycle is a short introduction to this essential geochemical driver of the Earth's climate system, written by one of the world's leading climate-science experts. In this one-of-a-kind primer, David Archer engages readers in clear and simple terms about the many ways the global carbon cycle is woven into our climate system. He begins with a concise overview of the subject, and then looks at the carbon cycle on three different time scales, describing how the cycle interacts with climate in very distinct ways in each. On million-year time scales, feedbacks in the carbon cycle stabilize Earth's climate and oxygen concentrations. Archer explains how on hundred-thousand-year glacial/interglacial time scales, the carbon cycle in the ocean amplifies climate change, and how, on the human time scale of decades, the carbon cycle has been dampening climate change by absorbing fossil-fuel carbon dioxide into the oceans and land biosphere. A central question of the book is whether the carbon cycle could once again act to amplify climate change in centuries to come, for example through melting permafrost peatlands and methane hydrates.

The Global Carbon Cycle features a glossary of terms, suggestions for further reading, and explanations of equations, as well as a forward-looking discussion of open questions about the global carbon cycle.

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About the author

David Archer is professor of geophysical sciences at the University of Chicago. He is the author of The Long Thaw: How Humans Are Changing the Next 100,000 Years of Earth's Climate and Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast, and the coauthor of The Climate Crisis: An Introductory Guide to Climate Change.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Nov 1, 2010
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Pages
216
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ISBN
9781400837076
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Language
English
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Genres
Science / Earth Sciences / General
Science / Global Warming & Climate Change
Science / Physics / Geophysics
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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David Archer
The human impact on Earth's climate is often treated as a hundred-year issue lasting as far into the future as 2100, the year in which most climate projections cease. In The Long Thaw, David Archer, one of the world’s leading climatologists, reveals the hard truth that these changes in climate will be "locked in," essentially forever.

If you think that global warming means slightly hotter weather and a modest rise in sea levels that will persist only so long as fossil fuels hold out (or until we decide to stop burning them), think again. In The Long Thaw, David Archer predicts that if we continue to emit carbon dioxide we may eventually cancel the next ice age and raise the oceans by 50 meters. A human-driven, planet-wide thaw has already begun, and will continue to impact Earth’s climate and sea level for hundreds of thousands of years. The great ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland may take more than a century to melt, and the overall change in sea level will be one hundred times what is forecast for 2100. By comparing the global warming projection for the next century to natural climate changes of the distant past, and then looking into the future far beyond the usual scientific and political horizon of the year 2100, Archer reveals the hard truths of the long-term climate forecast.

Archer shows how just a few centuries of fossil-fuel use will cause not only a climate storm that will last a few hundred years, but dramatic climate changes that will last thousands. Carbon dioxide emitted today will be a problem for millennia. For the first time, humans have become major players in shaping the long-term climate. In fact, a planetwide thaw driven by humans has already begun. But despite the seriousness of the situation, Archer argues that it is still not too late to avert dangerous climate change--if humans can find a way to cooperate as never before.

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David Archer
The human impact on Earth's climate is often treated as a hundred-year issue lasting as far into the future as 2100, the year in which most climate projections cease. In The Long Thaw, David Archer, one of the world’s leading climatologists, reveals the hard truth that these changes in climate will be "locked in," essentially forever.

If you think that global warming means slightly hotter weather and a modest rise in sea levels that will persist only so long as fossil fuels hold out (or until we decide to stop burning them), think again. In The Long Thaw, David Archer predicts that if we continue to emit carbon dioxide we may eventually cancel the next ice age and raise the oceans by 50 meters. A human-driven, planet-wide thaw has already begun, and will continue to impact Earth’s climate and sea level for hundreds of thousands of years. The great ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland may take more than a century to melt, and the overall change in sea level will be one hundred times what is forecast for 2100. By comparing the global warming projection for the next century to natural climate changes of the distant past, and then looking into the future far beyond the usual scientific and political horizon of the year 2100, Archer reveals the hard truths of the long-term climate forecast.

Archer shows how just a few centuries of fossil-fuel use will cause not only a climate storm that will last a few hundred years, but dramatic climate changes that will last thousands. Carbon dioxide emitted today will be a problem for millennia. For the first time, humans have become major players in shaping the long-term climate. In fact, a planetwide thaw driven by humans has already begun. But despite the seriousness of the situation, Archer argues that it is still not too late to avert dangerous climate change--if humans can find a way to cooperate as never before.

Revealing why carbon dioxide may be an even worse gamble in the long run than in the short, this compelling and critically important book brings the best long-term climate science to a general audience for the first time.

With a new preface that discusses recent advances in climate science, and the impact on global warming and climate change, The Long Thaw shows that it is still not too late to avert dangerous climate change—if we can find a way to cooperate as never before.

David Archer
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