Meteorology: Understanding the Atmosphere            Ackerman and Knox



Climate determines how we dress, what we do for recreation, and how we make a living. Climate is important for a variety of applications, weather forecasting being only one. The climate of a region is an important feature in city planning.   You would not want to locate a waste processing plant upwind of a city center.   Housing designs would benefit if architects can take advantage of solar illumination to maximize energy gains during the winter and minimize them in summer.   The climate of a region also determines successful agriculture products. The spread of certain diseases is influenced by climate conditions.

Defining today's climate is rather straightforward because of the large number of observations we have to analyze. Determining past climates is more of a challenge.   But there is one thing for sure, there is abundant evidence that climate of a region is not constant, it changes in space and in time. The challenge is to discover these past changes.

Determining past climates is like solving a crime.   We must search for evidence that identifies the eon's meteorological character.   The deposition must offer a consistent story while obeying physical laws.   Fossils, tree rings, ocean sediments, and air bubbles trapped in glaciers all provide clues to the mystery.   This combined evidence indicates that today's climate is fundamentally different than that of a million years ago. Knowing that climate varies does not explain the cause of these differences.   Explaining the reasons why the climate of a region has changed is like discovering the motive behind a crime. This chapter explores some of the methods that are used to make these discoveries.   So in the words of Sherlock Holmes

Come, Watson, come!   The game is afoot.
The Return of Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of the Abbey Grange , (1904) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyl