Who was John Tyndall?

The Tyndall Centre is named after John Tyndall, the physicist who was one of the first scientists to recognise the earth's natural greenhouse effect and to identify the relative radiative forcing values of the different greenhouse gases.  

Tyndall's role in climate change research: In the 1860's, Tyndall began to suggest that slight changes in the atmospheric composition could bring about climatic variations.

He was exploring radiation passing through the atmosphere and noted that, "The waves of heat speed from our earth through our atmosphere towards space. These waves dash in their passage against the atoms of oxygen and nitrogen, and against molecules of aqueous vapour. Thinly scattered as these latter are, we might naturally think of them meanly as barriers to the waves of heat." Tyndall's main interest was with water vapour and its impact on radiation, but he also dealt with the radiative forcing of other greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide.

Most importantly he identified that there was a greenhouse effect, whether natural or anthropogenic. For water vapour he noted that: "…this aqueous vapour is a blanket more necessary to the vegetable life of England than clothing is to man. Remove for a single summer night the aqueous vapour from the air that overspreads this country, and you would assuredly destroy every plant capable of being destroyed by a freezing temperature. The warmth of our fields and gardens would pour itself unrequited into space, and the sun would rise upon an island held fast in the iron grip of frost … its presence would check the earth's loss; its absence without sensibly altering the transparency of the air, would open wide a door for the escape of the earth's heat into infinitude."