Essential Climate Constructs

Authors: John Harrington*, Independent Scholar
Topics: Climatology and Meteorology, Geographic Thought
Keywords: climatic thought, concepts, seasons, climate change
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Buchanan, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Climate is a concept that humans have constructed. Constructs (abstract ideas) are necessary for the compilation of data into the meaningful ideas needed for climatic thinking. As the global climate changes due to human induced forcing, it is important to identify major ideas/constructs that can be used to assess the degree of anthropogenic climate change. Concerns about global climate change have led the atmospheric science community to establish new networks of stations and to assess whether the needed data to document changes are being collected. The Climate Reference Network in the US and the WMO development of Essential Climate Variables are responses to these needs. In addition to climate itself being a construct, including climate types as identified by Köppen and others, what are the essential constructs that enable climatology? Examples of important spatial, temporal, dynamic, statistical, and perceptual climate constructs will be presented. Given the prominent role of solar forcing for the Earth system, the annual cycle helps the climatologist to identify several important climate constructs. In particular, the construct of seasons will be addressed, with examples of how the idea of seasons has been modified or adjusted in climatic studies and among the public.

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