GPC Areas of Interest

The focus of the Topical Group on the Physics of Climate (GPC) is on the physics of climate processes and measurements. It is not intended to encompass the wider scope of physics associated with other environmental issues. The intended product of the GPC is physical insight and understanding of value to members of the Topical Group, APS members as a whole, and the broader scientific community concerned with climate issues. It is not concerned with matters of policy, legislation, or regulation. It is intended to be a mechanism for physicists with relevant skills, backgrounds, and interests to interact, to present research insights, to learn about and exchange views on the science, and to generally advance the physical understanding of climate.

Five specific initial areas of focus are listed below. These are based on the current perceived needs of climate science and are likely to change as that science progresses.

  1. Climate as a complex dynamical system, leading to a better understanding of the natural modes of the climate system, their coupling to each other and to exogenous forces.

  2. The physics of climate influences, leading to a better understanding of the mechanisms, magnitudes, and timescales by which anthropogenic and non-anthropogenic processes affect climate, including for example, greenhouse gases, solar variability, and unforced influences such as internal modes of variability.

  3. Insight into the nature, magnitude and timescales of climate sensitivity, arising from feedbacks including clouds, water vapor and the hydrological and carbon cycles, at the surface, in the atmosphere and in the oceans.

  4. The physics of proxies used to infer the properties of past climates for which instrumental records are not available, leading to a better understanding of past climates and their relation to the present climate.

  5. The computational physics and statistical analysis of climate model and measurement systems, leading to a better understanding of the methods, capabilities, and limitations of climate models and climate simulation predictions.

Specific natural science areas underlying these issues include fluid dynamics, modeling of nonlinear systems, the physics of complex systems, gas phase physics and chemistry, radiation/heat transfer, phase transitions, measurement science, computational physics, statistics, and biological physics.