87th AMS Annual Meeting

Tuesday, 16 January 2007: 3:30 PM
Steam, combustion, and CO2: The life and work of Guy Stewart Callendar
213A (Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center)
James Rodger Fleming, Colby College, Waterville, ME
Guy Stewart Callendar (1898-1964) is noted for identifying, in 1938, the link between the artificial production of carbon dioxide and global warming. Today this is called the “Callendar Effect.” He was one of Britain's leading steam and combustion engineers, a specialist in infrared physics, author of the standard reference book on the properties of steam at high temperatures and pressures, and designer of the burners of the notable World War II airfield fog dispersal system, FIDO. He was keenly interested in weather and climate, taking measurement so accurate that they were used to correct the official temperature records of central England and collecting a series of worldwide weather data that showed an unprecedented warming trend in the first four decades of the twentieth century. He formulated a coherent theory of infrared absorption and emission by trace gases, established the nineteenth-century background concentration of carbon dioxide, and argued that its atmospheric concentration was rising due to human activities, which was causing the climate to warm.

This account of his life and work will serve to introduce his biography, The Callendar Effect, and The Callendar Papers on DVD, both published by AMS.

Image caption: G.S. Callendar in 1953 at home with his conifers.

Supplementary URL: