Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist
Computing the Climate

Computing the Climate
How We Know What We Know About Climate Change

$34.99 (G)

  • Date Published: August 2023
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107589926

$ 34.99 (G)

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an examination copy?

If you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • How do we know that climate change is an emergency? How did the scientific community reach this conclusion all but unanimously, and what tools did they use to do it? This book tells the story of climate models, tracing their history from nineteenth-century calculations on the effects of greenhouse gases, to modern Earth system models that integrate the atmosphere, the oceans, and the land using the full resources of today's most powerful supercomputers. Drawing on the author's extensive visits to the world's top climate research labs, this accessible, non-technical book shows how computer models help to build a more complete picture of Earth's climate system. 'Computing the Climate' is ideal for anyone who has wondered where the projections of future climate change come from – and why we should believe them.

    • Written in a clear, non-technical narrative style that makes climate science accessible to a wide audience
    • Provides a 'big picture”' overview, showing how various scientific discoveries link together to better our understanding of climate change
    • Illustrates how key discoveries in climate science were made, linking technical work to its broader social and historical context
    • Describes the author's personal journey into understanding the people and ideas behind climate models and making his own contributions
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    ‘Numerical climate models are a critical tool for assessing the threat posed by climate change and investigating the options available to mitigate that threat. Yet, an understanding of these models-how they work, what they tell us, and how their tested and validated-has remained evasive for all but the most math and physics-literate. In Computing the Climate, computer scientist Steve Easterbook takes us on a journey through the world of climate modeling, making the science accessible to lay readers, and showing us why we should trust the models and heed their warnings, before it’s too late.’ Michael Mann, University of Pennsylvania, author of The New Climate War

    ‘Computing the Climate provides an impressively detailed history of how climate models evolved from simple equations calculated by hand to giant programs running on supercomputers. Avoiding jargon, this book explains to a general audience how the laws of physics and the principles of software engineering are combined to build climate models.’ R. Saravanan, Texas A&M University, author of The Climate Demon

    ‘Computing the Climate takes a unique look at the history of computational modeling the Earth’s climate system, the processes represented in these models, their evaluation, and how they are being used to project the potential changes in the future of our climate. When combined with more detailed analyses of concurrent issues being addressed in these models such as cloud and convection processes, this would be an excellent book for a university course on climate modeling.’ Don Wuebbles, University of Illinois

    ‘I teach several courses in climate change and climate modeling for general and specialized audiences, and I am so excited to incorporate this new text by Easterbrook into those classes. While climate models are derived from first physical principles, climate models are developed by people and communities. I think that this book’s approach of the tracing of revolutionary ideas and herculean efforts by generations of scientists to develop deep understanding and predictive capability for weather and climate does the topic justice. The logical progression of concepts, chapter by chapter is excellent as is the extensive, but not obtrusive, referencing throughout. Many difficult concepts, including: the greenhouse effect, chaos and predicability, computational instability, parallel computing, the difference between predictions and projections, are explained very well and accessibly. This book will be compelling reading both for students and people who simply want to know more.’ Matthew Huber, Purdue University

    ‘Easterbrook's non-technical survey of climate modeling uniquely expands the climate change genre. Students will benefit from its broad scope and equation-free conceptual explanations, and climate modelers will appreciate its historical approach linking nineteenth century experiments and ideas to twenty-first century breakthroughs.’ Baylor Fox-Kemper, Brown University

    ‘This is a very readable personal account of climate model development throughout history. It focuses on several individuals and modeling groups/countries. It often refers to ‘you’ and ‘we’. I learned a lot and enjoyed the book, and I recommend it to anyone faced with making decisions involving the future climate.’ Kevin Trenberth, University of Auckland, author of The Changing Flow of Energy Through the Climate System

    ‘This engaging, beautifully written book brings alive the scientists who created climate models, how they did it, and what the models can (and cannot) tell us - all in straightforward, nontechnical language and enlightening illustrations. If you want to understand how modern climate science works, start here.’ Paul N. Edwards, Stanford University, author of A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2023
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107589926
    • length: 350 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.5kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. The world's first climate model
    3. The forecast factory
    4. Taming chaos
    5. The heart of the machine
    6. The well-equipped physics lab
    7. Plug and play
    8. Sound science
    9. Choosing a future

  • Author

    Steve M. Easterbrook, University of Toronto
    Steve M. Easterbrook is Director of the School of the Environment at the University of Toronto, where he teaches courses on environmental decision-making, systems thinking, and climate literacy. He received a Ph.D. in Computing from Imperial College London in 1991. In the 1990s he served as lead scientist at NASA's Katherine Johnson IV&V Facility in West Virginia, where he worked on software verification for the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. He has been a consultant for the European and Canadian Space Agencies, and a visiting scientist at many climate research labs in the US and Europe.

Related Books

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×
warning icon

Turn stock notifications on?

You must be signed in to your Cambridge account to turn product stock notifications on or off.

Sign in Create a Cambridge account arrow icon

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.