The Rise of Climate Science
A Memoir (Kathie and Ed Cox Jr. Books on Conservation Leadership, sponsored by The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, Texas State University)
In a career spanning four decades, Gerald R. North contributed groundbreaking research that continues to shape the modern field of climate science. However, the route he has taken was full of surprising twists and turns that included hate mail, eavesdropping by the KGB, and sometimes acrimonious debate with climate-change deniers.
North’s significant contributions to the field include his innovative “toy model” analysis of climate change based on ingeniously simplified models and his lead proposal for and successful approval of the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite. Launched in 1997, the TRMM’s purpose was to collect data on the global climate system. The TRMM operated successfully for 17 years before it was deactivated in 2015.
In The Rise of Climate Science, North recounts in detail his life in the vanguard of modern climate science. He offers an insider look at the academic research and government initiatives around global warming and what that means for the planet. He includes stories of conversations with top Soviet climate scientists at the height of the Cold War in the late 1970s—complete with clandestine electronic surveillance. He also describes the experience of testifying before Congress and engaging in public exchanges with those who doubted the reality of the phenomenon his research field described.
Climatology today has advanced into a mature phase. This book is an important contribution to understanding its development in the twentieth century and adds a distinctly human face and sensibility to the ongoing societal conversation around climate change and its implications for our future.
Praise For The Rise of Climate Science: A Memoir (Kathie and Ed Cox Jr. Books on Conservation Leadership, sponsored by The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, Texas State University)…
— Michael E Mann
“A wonderful first-person scientific memoir, chronicling the development of modern climate science, written by a distinguished climate scientist who has contributed importantly to the story he tells. This delightful autobiography reveals that Gerald North is a warm, witty, modest man, not inclined to boast about his own considerable accomplishments. His perceptive and generous descriptions of many of his fellow scientists are a highlight of this very readable book.”—Richard C. J. Somerville, co-author of Climate Mathematics: Theory and Applications
— Richard C. J. Somerville
“The Rise of Climate Science: A Memoir by Gerald R. North follows the author’s Horatio Alger career, from growing up in Eastern Tennessee to becoming a world leader in the field of Climate Science. His book is especially relevant today because it straightforwardly tackles some of the controversies that have dogged this increasingly important field. His insightful sketches of some of the people he interacted with along the way were particular highlights for me.”—Philip James, Distinguished University Professor of Astronomy Emeritus, University of Toledo
— Philip James
“Jerry North writes about his personal path in science with great honesty and self-reflection, finding his way to theoretical physics and from there to the emerging field of climate science. It is both a really interesting story about life in academia and science, with its fierce competition, international collaborations, loyal friendships, and also the fun and joy of understanding and discovering. Jerry is one of the founding fathers of climate science and particularly of looking at climate from a statistical and analytic perspective.”— Gabi Hegerl, professor of climate system science at the University of Edinburgh
Full comments were:
It was a pleasure to read the autobiography of Jerry North. He writes about his personal path in science with great honesty and self-reflection, finding his way to theoretical physics and from there to the emerging field of climate science. It is both a really interesting story about life in academia and science, with its fierce competition, international collaborations, loyal friendships, and also the fun and joy of understanding and discovering. But Jerry’s journey coincided with the development of the new field of climate science – where there was so much to discover of what drives the major variations and changes in our planets temperature, how the climates of the past evolved and how climate will evolve in the future. For the physicists who made the transition, this journey was an exciting opportunity full of opportunities to understand. Jerry is one of the founding fathers of climate science and particularly of looking at climate from a statistical and analytic perspective and has shaped the field greatly. It was also informative to read about what works and what doesn’t in fostering research, how to drive a satellite mission to success, and how to collaborate across countries.
— Gabi Hagerl
Texas A&M University Press, 9781623498672, 336pp.
Publication Date: October 14, 2020
About the Author
GERALD R. NORTH is distinguished professor emeritus in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University. He has published more than 150 articles and authored or coauthored several books, including An Introduction to Atmosphere Thermodynamics; Paleoclimatology; Impact of Global Warming on Texas; and Energy Balance Climate Models. He resides in College Station, Texas.