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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Fall 2001

URLs in this document have been updated. Links enclosed in {curly brackets} have been changed. If a replacement link was located, the new URL was added and the link is active; if a new site could not be identified, the broken link was removed.

Science and Technology Sources on the Internet

Global Warming and Climate Change Science

K.T.L. Vaughan
NCSU Libraries Fellow
North Carolina State University

Scope | Methods | U.S. Government Agencies | International Government Agencies and Programs | Academic and Independent Research Centers and Programs | Advocacy and Educational Organizations | Skeptics' Organizations and Publications | Resources for Children and Families | News | Journals and Magazines | Newsgroups and Listservs | Data Files | Directories


Global warming is a topic on many people's minds right now. From elementary school students to advanced researchers, politicians to business leaders, questions abound regarding what global warming is (or is not), why it is happening (or is not), and what can and should be done about it. This guide is designed to help librarians in public, school, and academic libraries help their patrons find basic information from respected sources. A balance was sought between sites focusing on an introduction to global warming and those aimed specifically at researchers. Most sites have a slant towards policy and research in the United States, while selected references to international materials, especially from the United Nations and Canada, were also included.


This guide was inspired by a question to the Internet Public Library from a school student doing a project on global warming. It was difficult to find a coherent guide to resources, especially those for nonscientists and children. The sources in this guide, some of which were used to answer that IPL query, were collected from a variety of web directories and search engines. When searching for information on global warming, it is necessary to use a combination of terms. Children are often introduced to the subject using the term "greenhouse effect." Policy makers often use "global warming." Scientists call the field "climate change science." Sources are often organized in science categories of directories, but may also be found in society. Within science, the field incorporates thought in biology, chemistry, ecology, environmental sciences, mathematical biology, and meteorology, among other disciplines.

Listed below are the directory categories found most helpful in the creation of this guide. Web search engines used were BioLinks ({}) and Google ( Listservs were identified using CataList ( Many sites were also identified from the links pages of other sites.

U.S. Government Agencies

A number of U.S. agencies have programs researching climate change. Several of these are mentioned later in this guide in the Data Files section, since most of their activities are in data collection and dissemination. The following agency sites were selected for their wealth of information and unique perspective on the global warming issue.
Environmental Protection Agency Global Warming Site
An extensive amount of data, information, and news regarding global warming issues. The site is arranged by subject (climate, emissions, impacts, solutions), format (news, publications, events), and by audience (children, citizens, public officials, health professionals).
U.S. Department of State Office of International Information Programs: Climate Change
A source of official information from the Administration, including fact sheets, White House reports, the full text of the Kyoto Protocol, and links to organizations and information for global warming.
NOAA Paleoclimatology Program
This program analyses data collected through the National Geophysical Data Program for evidence of climate change over geological history. The program provides "a paleo perspective on global warming." Resources include data sets and analysis.

International Government Agencies and Programs

Global warming became a major issue for society in the last few years, especially after the initial release of the Kyoto Protocol. The United Nations has taken a leadership position in research, education, and solutions advancement for greenhouse gas emissions problems. Among the many government programs available outside the United States, the following are particularly well-organized.
Climate change: UNEP.Net, the U.N. Environment Programme Network
A clearinghouse for information from the U.N. regarding global warming. Resources include maps and graphics representing current data for emissions and impacts, links to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and to the World Conservation Monitoring Centre global biodiversity program.
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Public Information Materials
Understanding Climate Change: A Beginner's Guide to the U.N. Framework Convention and its Kyoto Protocol:
Climate Change Information Kit:
The U.N. produced these materials to help citizens understand the background to the Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. Both are available in HTML or PDF format, and are in English and French. The Beginner's Guide is also available in Spanish. The Beginner's Guide is a basic (but lengthy) explanation of the problems and possible solutions surrounding global warming. The Information Kit is an extensive collection of fact sheets arranged into five sections: "Understanding the climate system," "Facing the consequences," "The Climate Change Convention," "Limiting greenhouse gas emissions," and "Facts and figures."
International Energy Agency Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme
The IEA GHG works to "identify and evaluate technologies for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases arising from use of fossil fuels, disseminate the results of these studies, and identify targets for research, development and demonstration." Site includes reports, news, and publications focusing on the program's "practical research" into abatement and mitigation technologies.
Natural Resources Climate Change Web Site
"Climate change information related to energy, forestry, earth sciences, and minerals and metals" from Natural Resources Canada (NRCan). Includes sections for basic information, research and data programs, international and national policies, and personal action steps. Site is available in English or French.
Federal Department of the Environment (Belgium): Climate Change
Information regarding global climate change, including data, government documents and other publications, and international policies. Site and all contents are available in English, Dutch, and French. Some materials are also available in German and Spanish.

Academic and Independent Research Centers and Programs

Much research into climate change occurs within academic and independent research centers. These centers are able to bring together interdisciplinary scientists and public policy analysts to explore the problems and possible solutions associated with greenhouse gases. Below are some international and U.S. centers that are at the forefront of private research.
Global Warming International Center
GWIC sponsors research supporting the understanding of global warming and its mitigation. Projects include the Global Treeline Project, Greenhouse Gas Reduction Benchmark, and the Extreme Event Index. GWIC also sponsors the annual Global Warming International Conference and published the journal World Resource Review.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Global Change Science
"The long-term goal of the CGCS is to utilize theory and observations to understand the basic processes and mechanisms controlling the global environment, and thereby to accurately predict environmental changes." The CGCS is a partner with the MIT Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research in the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change.
A Closer Look at Global Warming
Materials from the National Academies of Science in support of the report "Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions" (2001) by the National Research Council. Hyperlinked articles cover issues of data collection, the evidence both for warming and for human agency in warming, and possible consequences of global climate change.
Climate Change in Asia
Sponsored by the Tata Energy Research Institute of India and the U.S. Department of Energy, this site reports on global warming data for Asia. Information is presented for the continent (including the Indian subcontinent) as a whole as well as for individual countries, and includes data tables as well as published reports from TERI.

Advocacy and Educational Organizations

Global warming is based on some very intricate science, and it affects the daily economic and medical life of non-scientists. A number of organizations have developed educational and advocacy programs aimed at helping private citizens and policy makers understand the complexities of climate change science. These programs do not attempt to mask their pro-environment bias, on the whole, but they also present a fairly balanced picture of the problem and solutions.
Climate Change Solutions
A climate change education project of The Pembina Institute, Canada. CCS offers targeted stories, tools, and resources to families, cities, schools, agriculture, industry, and other institutions interested in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. Each section includes background information and facts, heavily hyperlinked to definitions and action items. The site is available in English or French.
National Resources Defense Council: Global Warming
Overview of the politics and science behind global warming from the point of view of an environmental organization. This site contains brief news articles and action alerts, in depth analysis and Congressional testimony, and links to other online resources for conservationists.
Pew Center on Global Climate Change
The Pew Center works with scientists, policymakers, and businesses on programs to educate the public about climate change and to encourage reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. This site contains many of the Center's scientific, economic, and policy reports and educational materials, with details about recent events.
Safeguarding the Web of Life: Global Environment
Fact sheets, reports, position papers, and briefings from the Union of Concerned Scientist's Global Environment campaign section for global warming. The Frequently Asked Questions section includes brief but complete answers, with links to more information from the UCS and outside sources.
U.S. Global Change Research Information Office (GCRIO)
"Provides access to data and information on climate change research, adaptation/mitigation strategies and technologies, and global change related educational resources on behalf of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) and its participating federal agencies and organizations. GCRIO is implemented by The Center for International Earth Science Information Network at Columbia University."

Skeptics' Organizations and Publications

There are some very vocal organizations disputing the science behind global warming. Many of them suggest that the greenhouse effect is not as serious as others state. Others suggest that the economic effects of mitigation efforts and emissions reductions are worse than allowing global warming to occur. It is important to recognize that global warming is not an undisputed fact. These sites offer some information on the issue from a skeptical point of view.
CO2 Science Magazine
"A weekly review and repository of scientific research pertaining to carbon dioxide and global change." Managed by the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, a group critical of climate change claims. Information on the site includes data from the U.S. Historical Climatology Network, model experiments for measuring the effects of CO2 on plants, and journal and book reviews.
Global Warming Information Page
The Cooler Heads Coalition is a subgroup of the National Consumer Coalition, and was founded by that group to "dispel the myths of global warming by exposing flawed economic, scientific, and risk analysis." Features of the site include economic arguments against the Kyoto Protocol and other climate change policy documents as well as regular legislative updates.

Resources for Children & Families

Exploring the greenhouse effect is a common science project or curricular element for elementary school students. It can be difficult to find materials aimed at children and the general public. These sites have resources for students, parents, and teachers. Many of them include "what can I do?" sections that discuss actions that consumers can take.
Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program Education Center: Global Warming
Fun activities and classroom modules for middle school students and teachers. Includes a question archive, an option to "ask a scientist" questions about global warming, news, an extensive list of lesson plans, and "cool sites" related to climate change science. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Global Warming: Focus on the Future
Interactive, online version of the museum exhibit cosponsored by the Environmental Defense Fund and Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. Includes games and quizzes aimed at helping adults determine the personal impact of global warming and conservation.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Global Warming Kids Site
Includes in-depth treatments of the major issues surrounding the climate change debate, arranged in an easy to understand system. Includes links to an internal glossary, easy games with global warming themes, and links to external climate change sites for children.
The Why Files: Global Warming
Fairly detailed explanation of global warming issues for teachers, students, and the general public. Article includes graphs from NASA and hyperlinks to original data and articles, with additional internal links to related topics such as overpopulation, the greenhouse effect, and biodiversity.


Because global warming has so many implications for the economy and politics, there are often stories in the news about recent research, legislation, and business practices. Most standard news outlets run stories on a regular basis on these issues. Below are listed two sites that collect news stories from a variety of media channels, as well as the specific area for climate change from a science magazine.
Global Warming
International news in English, collected by Stories are predominantly from the news wires, but also include trade presses and other sources. The site includes links to other areas in the suite of news sites and to external web sites related to global warming.
New Scientist Global Environment Report: Climate Change
Recent articles from New Scientist related to climate change and global warming, with background information and guides to the news.
Yahoo! News: Global Warming and Climate Change
Recent full-text articles from a variety of worldwide news sources, including the Christian Science Monitor, UniSci, and Reuters news service.

Journals and Magazines

Librarians realize that most science publishing is in scholarly journals or quick-publication magazines. News and reviews digests may be more accessible to the public than the most technical journals. Listed here are some free online sources of information at varying levels. Many scientific publishers, including Elsevier and Blackwell's, offer electronic versions of their journals for a subscription fee. These journals are not included below, as it is likely that many libraries will not have access to them.
Global Change: Electronic Edition
Online review of climate change and ozone depletion, published by the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security. The stated audience is the general public, not scientists, and articles are kept short with links to related information.
Network Newsletter: Climate-Related Impacts International Network
A publication of the Environmental and Societal Impacts Group (ESIG) of the National Center for Atmospheric Research focusing on climate-related impact assessment. Includes editorials, brief news stories, and conference announcements. Available online in PDF format.
"An online forum designed to provide the news media, legislators, opinion leaders, and the interested public with analysis and commentary on U.S. and global policy initiatives related to climate change. It is published by 'Resources for the Future,' with an eye on the international negotiations that are to decide on goals and actions under the Framework Convention on Climate Change."

Newsgroups and Mailing Lists

Many researchers keep in touch with current research and their colleagues by way of newsgroups or email listservs. The following lists are not recommended for the general public or amateur scientists, as they tend to discuss the hard science behind climate change issues.
"CLIMLIST is a moderated international electronic mail distribution list for climatologists and those working in closely-related fields. It is primarily intended for persons undertaking research in climatology, teaching climatology and providing services of a climatological nature. "
U.S. EPA Climate Change Lists
This page is the index for the nine U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Climate Change lists and the two U.S. EPA EnergyStar lists. These lists are separated along content lines, and include topics such as educational programs, business information, and health/medicine information. It is possible to subscribe to the lists via the web.

Data Files

Much research into global warming depends on the vast amount of data collected by various branches of the U.S. government. This data describes the current and historical picture of global climate using temperatures, rainfall, annual growth, and other measures. The data collected is primarily used to create models of the future.
Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC)
The U.S. Department of Energy's primary center for data and information analysis. "Data holdings include records of the concentrations of carbon dioxide and other radiatively active gases in the atmosphere; the role of the terrestrial biosphere and the oceans in the biogeochemical cycles of greenhouse gases; emissions of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere; long-term climate trends; the effects of elevated carbon dioxide on vegetation; and the vulnerability of coastal areas to rising sea level."
A joint project of the U.S. Global Change Data and Information System (GCDIS) and the U.S. Global Change Research Program (GCRP), this site purports to be the "gateway to global change data." Included are data sets from a variety of U.S. agencies, including NOAA, NASA, and the DOE, along with recent reports, news, and Congressional testimony.
Global Change Master Directory
"NASA's Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) provides descriptions of earth science data sets and services relevant to global change research. The GCMD database includes descriptions of data sets covering agriculture, the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere and oceans, snow and ice, geology and geophysics, paleoclimatology, and human dimensions of global change."
National Climatic Data Center (NCDC)
An active archive of weather data collected by the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. NCDC also administers the World Data Center for Meteorology. Local weather station data is available online for free; other products are available on CD-ROM for a fee. There is also information on the role of climate data in environmental science and meteorology.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center Distributed Active Archive Center (GES DISC DAAC)
Data and educational resources for atmospheric chemistry, atmospheric dynamics, NASA field experiments, hydrology, and land biosphere change data. Environmental scientists around the world use this information to calculate the extent of global climate change and to predict trends for the future.


Directories allow a searcher to find the area in which he/she is interested, then see all of the web sites that are similar to each other in that area. The directory categories listed below were found to contain the most relevant sites for global warming. All of them also include links to other categories for similar, more restrictive, or broader concepts.

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