The Atmosphere

The Atmosphere

Editor

All of us are conscious of atmospheric absorption, our background spectra clearly showing bands around 3000 + 1650 cm-1 due to water and there are the familiar 2300 + 670 cm-1 features due to CO2. Oldies like me can remember when the background (or as we called them then – single beam runs) showed really strong absorption at shorter wavelengths. Modern FTs show them less seriously because the beam splitter restricts transmission at 3000 and higher cm-1. My point is that water vapour is THE absorber with CO2 a minor secondary feature. As a result, I have always found it difficult to follow the correlation between CO2 generation from burning fossil fuel and its contribution to global warming. I note that around 10,000 years ago the glacial icecap in Canada extended south almost to Lake Superior. By the time of Christ the cap had vanished northwards by a couple of thousand miles, but no-one burned oil or coal in this period. Is it not the case that the earth is simply warming of its own accord and will eventually start cooling again?

Recently, Spectrochimica Acta has carried a correspondence between Drs. Braterman and Barrett on global warming, a correspondence worthy of a quality scientific journal, incomprehensible to all bar the specialist! I therefore asked Jack Barrett to write all of us a piece explaining the role of CO2 in global warming. He kindly and enthusiastically agreed and his article is below

REF: Int. J. Vib. Spect., [www.irdg.org/ijvs] 1, 2, 4 (1996)