Über die Bedeutung des Wasserdampfes und der Kohlensaüres bei der Absorption der Erdatmosphäre, Annalen der Physik 3 pp. 720-732, 1900. Knut Ångström.

Über die Bedeutung des Wasserdampfes und der Kohlensaüres bei der Absorption der Erdatmosphäre, Annalen der Physik 3 pp. 720-732, 1900

Leipzig: Johann Ambrosius Barth, 1920. 1st Edition. FIRST EDITION, bound full volume, of ÅNGSTRÖM’S 1900 ANALYSIS ASSERTING THAT THE ABSORPTION OF HEAT BY WATER VAPOR DOMINATES THAT OF CARBON DIOXIDE. In a direct challenge to Arrhenius’ conclusions about the importance of carbon dioxide in retaining heat, Ångström’s publication presented “the first modern infrared absorption spectrum of CO2 with two absorption bands” and his “experimental results that seemed to show that absorption of infrared radiation by the gas in the atmosphere was already ‘saturated’ so that adding more could make no difference” (Jokimäki, When Carbon Dioxide Didn’t Affect Climate, AGW Observer, 2010).

Solely because of the limitations of the data available to him at the time, Ångström’s analysis was later found to be flawed. However, his publication ended the scientific investigation of the carbon dioxide greenhouse effect for decades – meaning that it dissuaded, with significant consequences, serious inquiry into the relationship between global temperature and atmospheric CO2 for decades.

The evolution of Ångström’s hypothesis, however, is interesting. A few years after Svante Arrhenius' analysis of the importance of carbon dioxide in retaining heat, “Ångström, asked an assistant to measure the passage of infrared radiation through a tube filled with carbon dioxide. The assistant ("Herr J. Koch," otherwise unrecorded in history) put in rather less of the gas in total than would be found in a column of air reaching to the top of the atmosphere. The assistant reported that the amount of radiation that got through the tube scarcely changed when he cut the quantity of gas back by a third. Apparently it took only a trace of the gas to "saturate" the absorption — that is, in the bands of the spectrum where CO2 blocked radiation, it did it so thoroughly that more gas could make little difference” (The Discovery of Global Warming, AIP History Portal, 2018). In other words, any additional CO2, it was argued, would have little or no effect on global temperature.

Again, due to the limits of his data Ångström was incorrect, but his negative assessments of the import of CO2 impacted research for decades. This, though, was unknown, and in 1903 Ångström won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, becoming the first Swedish Nobel laureate, and in 1905 became director of the Nobel Institute where he remained until his death. Item #1119

CONDITION & DETAILS: Leipzig: Johann Ambrosius Barth. Full volume. 8vo (9 x 6; 225 x 150mm). Ex-libris with stamps on the title page only, no markings whatsoever on the spine. Marbled text block. Contemporary black cloth backed marbled boards. Handwritten label. Two fold-out plates. Bright and clean inside and out; tightly bound. Fine condition.

Price: $475.00

See all items by