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Narratives and counter-narratives of climate change: North Atlantic glaciology and meteorology, c. 1930-1955
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science and Technology.
2009 (English)In: Journal of Historical Geography, ISSN 0305-7488, E-ISSN 1095-8614, Vol. 35, no 2, 237-255 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper seeks to uncover narratives of climate change shaped within two distinct but related research communities in glaciology and meteorology, both institutionally located at the Stockholm Hogskola, later Stockholm University, and with widespread collaborative networks in the Nordic countries, the United Kingdom, and the United States. During the 1930s, Stockholm glaciology under Hans W: son Ahlmann provided an early theory of 'polar warming', based on solid field data from the North Atlantic and Arctic realm, but remained resistant to ideas of human climate forcing and thus lost a lot of its emerging policy influence. Stockholm meteorology under Carl-Gustaf Rossby followed a different trajectory. Based on geophysical theory and computer science experimentation funded by military sources on both sides of the Atlantic, the Rossby school established an early institutional acceptance of greenhouse explanations of climate change with strong links to policy. This account of divergent research agendas, differential extra-scientific conditions, and contradictory representations of the direction and causes of climate change should caution against viewing the history of climate science and policy as a cumulative affair based on ever more precise and better knowledge. The narratives presented here highlight, on the contrary, the importance of broad science politics as well as local and disciplinary methods, traditions, and institutional trajectories in shaping attitudes among scientists to climate change.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 35, no 2, 237-255 p.
Keyword [en]
Environmental sciences, Climate change, Glaciology, Meteorology, Field science, Cold war science, Hans Ahlmann, Carl-Gustaf Rossby
National Category
History Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-32701DOI: 10.1016/j.jhg.2008.09.003ISI: 000280389100003ScopusID: 2-s2.0-63349108343OAI: diva2:411763
QC 20110419Available from: 2011-04-19 Created: 2011-04-18 Last updated: 2011-04-19Bibliographically approved

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