In CSL researchers build instruments to make precise measurements, conduct laboratory experiments, design and operate field missions, analyze observations, and use sophisticated computer models to better understand how our changing atmosphere is influencing climate – and therefore people.
Water vapor, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide, and other greenhouse gases and particles absorb infrared light that would normally escape to space. This natural "greenhouse effect" warms the planet's atmosphere, and without it the Earth would be an inhospitable, frozen planet. But greenhouse gases are now building up in Earth's atmosphere, emitted from the tailpipes of cars, the stacks of power plants, and by many other human activities. The changes caused by human activities are large, and they are now happening at an unprecedented rate.