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Schlüsselwörter:Klimatologie Klimaforschung Meteorologie Computersimulation Klimawandel
Constructing Climate. From Classical Climatology to Modern Climate Research
Both climate researchers and historians of climate science have conceived climate as a stable and well defined category. This article argues that such a conception is flawed. In the course of the 19th and 20th century the very concept of climate changed considerably. Scientists came up with different definitions and concepts of climate, which implied different understandings, interests, and research approaches. Understanding climate shifted from a timeless, spatial concept at the end of the 19th century to a spaceless, temporal concept at the end of the 20th. Climatologists in the 19th and early 20th centuries considered climate as a set of atmospheric characteristics associated with specific places or regions. In this context, while the weather was subject to change, climate remained largely stable. Of particular interest was the impact of climate on human beings and the environment. In modern climate research at the close of the 20th century, the concept of climate lost its temporal stability. Instead, climate change has become a core feature of the understanding of climate and a focus of research interests. Climate has also lost its immediate association with specific geographical places and become global. The interest is now focused on the impact of human beings on climate. The paper attempts to investigate these conceptual shifts and their origins and impacts in order to provide a more comprehensive perspective on the history of climate research.