advisor, Robert Cess
, was no longer interested in interferometer research."I don't think he ever even saw the equipment," says Cess, now a distinguished professor and distinguished service professor emeritus at the Marine Sciences Research Center at Stony Brook University.
After consulting with his
former advisor, Cess
began investigating how CFCs compare with carbon dioxide in their greenhouse effect on Earth's climate.
After a few months of calculations, Ramanathan
found an answer that would change how scientists viewed climate change."Until 1975, we used to think the global warming problem was mainly from carbon dioxide," he
says.His result suggested otherwise (2), showing that "adding one molecule of CFC to the atmosphere would have the same greenhouse effect as adding more than 10,000 molecules of carbon dioxide."
That CFCs, which are relatively rare in the atmosphere, could be such a powerful force in global warming was met with disbelief, not in the least from Ramanathan
himself."I was surprised that even at a part per billion they can have such a large impact," he
gave up his
dream of fast cars and embraced his
new field of research: "For me, that was the turning point.
, V., Callis, L., Cess
, R., Hansen, J., Isaksen, I., Kuhn, W., Lacis, A., Luther, F., Mahlman, J., Reck, R. & Schlesinger, M. (1987) World Meteorological Organization Report #1 on Atmospheric Ozone (World Meteorological Organization, Geneva), Vol.III, Ch.15, pp.821-894.