Pathways of Discovery

The Ascent of Atmospheric Sciences

Science  13 Oct 2000:
Vol. 290, Issue 5490, pp. 299-304
DOI: 10.1126/science.290.5490.299

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Summary

In this month's essay, Paul J. Crutzen and Veerabhadran Ramanathan chart some of the courses by which atmospheric sciences evolved from their beginnings, with curious scientists teasing apart the complexity of the air they breathe, into an ever more multidisciplinary enterprise that routinely generates globally consequential knowledge. The authors chronicle developments in chemistry and meteorology up to the early 1970s, before the possibility of human influence beyond the local scale became actualized. To illustrate how humanity's hand has grown to have global effects, they zero in on two contemporary issues: atmospheric ozone and global warming.

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