PGS Series: Princeton Primers in Climate

We hear a lot of noise and confusion on the subject of climate. As the subject has become politicized, the climate system has become a subject of high interest outside of the climate and Earth science community, and even outside of the scientific community altogether. Here at Princeton University Press, we felt that it was high time to launch a new series of books that gives scientifically minded readers the facts on how climate works.


Princeton Primers in Climate takes the complex climate system, and breaks it up into all its component parts, to explain how each part works and contributes to the working of the whole. Each book in the series is short, affordable, conversational and accessible in tone, and also quantitative. The books do include a handful of key equations (not beyond first-year, college level calculus). This is because these books are about the facts – the physics – of how climate works, so a few equations are needed to make the science absolutely clear. They are meant to reach a wide, interdisciplinary audience of readers who have no specialized background in this field, but who can handle a little bit of physics and math. For anyone looking for succinct and readable books on this frequently misunderstood subject, written by leading researchers in the field of climate science, these primers reveal the physical workings of the global climate system with unmatched accessibility and detail.

Published in November, the first title in the series is The Global Carbon Cycle. Written by David Archer, notable climate scientist and frequent contributor to, the book looks at the carbon cycle – an essential driver of the climate system – and its impact on climate across different geological timescales, from the deep past up to the present day. The carbon cycle is something of a thermostat for Earth’s climate, given the direct cause and effect relationship between the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and global temperature. Interestingly, however, it can stabilize the Earth’s climate or amplify natural or man-made variations in climate, depending on the timescale you’re looking at. In this sense, it was a co-conspirator both in past ice ages and in times when the Earth went through warm periods and had no ice at all.

To discover how exactly carbon influences the climate system over the short and the long term, this is the book to read. Firmly grounded in advanced climate science research but written in an accessible style, The Global Carbon Cycle makes an essential contribution to current debates surrounding climate change – by clarifying exactly what we know and don’t know about this fundamental part of the climate system.

Stay tuned for forthcoming books in this exciting new series, including The Oceans and Climate by Geoffrey K. Vallis, Natural Climate Change by Mark Cane, Atmospheric Processes by David Randall, Climate Sensitivity by Jeffrey Kiehl, Planetary Climates by Andrew Ingersoll, The Cryosphere by Shawn J. Marshall, Paleoclimate by Michael L. Bender, and Terrestrial Hydrology and the Climate System by Eric F. Wood.


  1. Cool book, but I personally don’t believe in anthropogenic climate change.

    Too many holes in the argument imho, but I’m willing to keep an open mind.

  2. Response…Did you actually READ the book?