On the Relation of Radiant Heat to Aqueous Vapour in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 153 pp. 1-12, 1863. John Tyndall.
On the Relation of Radiant Heat to Aqueous Vapour in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 153 pp. 1-12, 1863

On the Relation of Radiant Heat to Aqueous Vapour in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 153 pp. 1-12, 1863

London: Taylor and Francis, 1863. 1st Edition. FIRST EDITION OF THE PAPER IN WHICH TYNDALL IS THE FIRST TO CORRECTLY IDENTIFY “THE FUNDAMENTAL ROLE OF WATER VAPOR IN ATMOSPHERIC DYNAMICS WHICH, HE CLAIMED, ‘MUST FORM ONE OF THE CHIEF FOUNDATION-STONES OF THE SCIENCE OF METEOROLOGY” (Hulme, Exploring Climate Change). Both Herschel and Airy thought it “a grand step in meteorology” (Jackson, John Tyndall, 172).

In 1862 (and in a paper and volume we offer separately), John Tyndall present the 1st quantification & demonstration that atmospheric gases are infrared emitters – that they emit heat. What Tyndall discovered is "the first accurate account of how the atmosphere functions" (Kolbert, Field Notes, 35). Before this, many believed that something like what we now call the Greenhouse Effect existed, but in this paper Tyndall was the first to demonstrate, quantify, and prove it.

"Tyndall was quick to appreciate the implications of his discovery: the selectively transparent gases, he declared, were largely responsible for determining the planet's climate. He likened their impact to that of a dam built across a river: just as a dam 'causes a local deepening of the stream, so our atmosphere, thrown as a barrier across the terrestrial rays, produces a local heightening of the temperature at the earth's surface'" (Kolbert, 36).

The paper offered followed Tyndall’s 1862 discovery. In it, Tyndall concluded that water vapor absorbed the most radiant heat and is therefore the principal gas controlling air temperature (ibid). Specifically, Tyndall identified the fundamental role of water vapor in atmospheric dynamics and claimed that it “must form one of the chief foundation-stones of the science of meteorology” (Tyndall, 1863).

Tyndall “made the remarkable calculation that 10 percent of the entire terrestrial radiation would be absorbed by the water vapor within 10 feet of the Earth’s surface on an average day. Rising air containing water vapor radiates its heat, thereby cooling and condensing the water to fall as precipitation. Tyndall described, in a beautiful image, how a cloud therefore ‘constitutes the visible capital of an invisible pillar of saturated air’” (Jackson). “The differential radiative absorption properties of the gases and vapors revealed by Tyndall’s interrogation of nature 150 years ago -- a suite of gases now expanded to include a group of artificial gases unknown to Tyndall, the halocarbons – remain central to the idea of anthropogenic climate change. Subsequent work has established the global warming potentials of each of these gases with some level of precision (Foster et al., 2007), calculations that are pivotal in efforts to quantify the extent of human influence on the world’s temperature and in efforts to reduce and manage those consequences. John Tyndall’s experimental work in 1859 in the basement of a renowned London scientific institution may not be remembered in the same way as is Darwin’s masterpiece On the Origin of Species. Yet in its own way the legacy of Tyndall’s work is just as significant for contemporary cultural and scientific debates” (Hulme, On the Origin of the Greenhouse Effect, 123).

ALSO INCLUDED: Boole, On the Differential Equations of Dynamics. Also papers by Cayley, Sabine, Matthiessen, Airy, & Thomson.

We separately offer the 1860 "first report" of Tyndall's experiments based on a lecture delivered before the Royal Society entitled "On the Effects of Heat on Different Gases." Item #1092

CONDITION & DETAILS: Complete volume 153 Philosophical Transactions. Quarto. (11 x 9 inches; 275 x 225mm). [20], 669, [41 plates], 2. 39 plates, some colored; note that plates 1 and 2 (Owen) are missing. Handsomely rebound in aged calf. 5 raised bands at the spine, each gilt-ruled; gilt-tooled fleur de lis at the spine. Red and black, gilt-lettered spine labels. Tightly and solidly bound. New endpapers. Very bright and clean throughout. Near fine.

Price: $750.00

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