Dr. Brad Marston
Department of Physics
Monday, November 3, 2008
The Quantum Mechanics of Global Warming
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 may 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. I conclude by discussing some possible ways that theoretical physics might be able to contribute to a deeper understanding of climate change.