The Dictionary of the Climate Debate (DCD)


Chamberlin, Thomas Crowder






(1843-1928) An American geologist who:

(1) Developed a theory of climate change that emphasized that CO2 was a key regulator of Earth's temperature.

(2) Was the first to demonstrate that the only proper way to understand the Earth's climate was to take into account almost all aspects of the ecosystem — i.e., not just the air but the oceans, the volcanoes bringing gases from the deep interior, the chemistry of weathered minerals, etc.

(3) Hypothesized that ice ages might be driven by a feedback cycle involving CO2.

Notes:
1. “Chamberlin's speculation about ice ages was one of many at the time, but he had pioneered the modeling of global movements of carbon. He made rough calculations of how much carbon was stored up in rocks, oceans, and organic reservoirs such as forests.

He went on to point out that compared with these stockpiles, the atmosphere contained only a minor fraction — and most of that CO2 cycled in and out of the atmosphere every few thousand years. It was a delicate balance, he warned. Climate conditions "congenial to life" might be short-lived on geological time scales." (Source: Encyclopedia of Earth)


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