The Quantum and Fluid Mechanics of Climate
Marston (Department of Physics,
Quantum mechanics plays a crucial, albeit often
overlooked, role in our understanding of the Earth's climate. In this talk three well known aspects of quantum mechanics are invoked to
present a simple physical picture of what will happen as the concentrations of
greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide continue to increase. Historical
and paleoclimatic records are interpreted with some
basic astronomy, fluid mechanics, and the use of
fundamental laws of physics such as the conservation of angular momentum.
Live simulations will illustrate the basic physical principles
governing large scale atmospheric circulation. I conclude by discussing
some possible ways that physics might be able to contribute to a deeper
understanding of climate change.