Climate papers | Carbon Brief
Which of the many thousands of papers on climate
change published each year in scientific journals are the most
successful? Which ones have done the most to advance scientists'
understanding, alter the course of climate change research, or
inspire future generations?
On Wednesday, Carbon Brief will reveal the results of
our analysis into which scientific papers on the topic of climate
change are the most "cited". That means, how many times other
scientists have mentioned them in their own published research.
It's a pretty good measure of how much impact a paper has had in
the science world.
But there are other ways to measure influence. Before
we reveal the figures on the most-cited research, Carbon Brief has
asked climate experts what they think are the most
We asked all the coordinating lead authors, lead
authors and review editors on the last Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC) report to nominate three papers from any time
in history. This is the exact question we posed:
"What do you consider to be
the three most influential papers in the field of climate
As you might expect from a broad mix of physical
scientists, economists, social scientists and policy experts, the
nominations spanned a range of topics and historical periods,
capturing some of the great climate pioneers and the very latest
climate economics research.
Here's a link to our
summary of who said what. But one paper clearly takes the top
Winner: Manabe & Wetherald (
With eight nominations, a seminal paper by Syukuro
Manabe and Richard. T. Wetherald published in the Journal of
the Atmospheric Sciences in 1967 tops the Carbon Brief poll as
the IPCC scientists' top choice for the most influential climate
change paper of all time.
Entitled, "Thermal Equilibrium of the Atmosphere with
a Given Distribution of Relative Humidity", the work was the first
to represent the fundamental elements of the Earth's climate in a
computer model, and to explore what doubling carbon dioxide (CO2)
would do to global temperature.
Manabe & Wetherald
(1967), Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences
The Manabe & Wetherald paper is considered by many
as a pioneering effort in the field of climate modelling, one that
effectively opened the door to projecting future climate change.
And the value of climate sensitivity is something climate
still grappling with today.