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Climate Change Umnderlying Physics Demonstration

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Peter Milne

Nov 26, 2019


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Hi,  I'm new to Climate CoLab so please forgive me if what follows doesn't belong here or is inappropriate.

For some time I have been toying with the idea that it might be useful to be able to demonstrate to lay people in a physics lab sort of way how atmospheric warming increases as the carbon dioxide concentration increases in the atmosphere.

Simplistically I imagine a closed transparent container containing air, water, digital thermometers and a ph meter.  A heat light shines on the container simulating the sun and the temperature of the air and the temperature and ph of the water are recorded and plotted against time as the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air in the container is slowly increased.  The expectation is that the air (atmosphere) and water (ocean) will get hotter as the carbon dioxide concentration is increased, and the acidity of the water (ocean) will increase.  If ice were included then its melting would demonstrate the melting of the polar ice caps and the rising of sea levels.  More fancifully (and somewhat simplistically), if convection currents in the enclosed air were made visible then it would demonstrate how turbulance increases (more severe weather) with increasing atmospheric temperature/humidity.  

I have no idea if such a setup would work in practice, but if it did I think it would provide a compelling demonstration to non scientists (and skeptics) of the physics behind climate change and help mobilize support.

Finally, one could use the setup to demonstrate what happens when the carbon dioxide concentration is lowered in the air (atmosphere) in the container.

Perhaps one could make a film of the demonstration.