Animation of horizontally homogeneous non-rotating radiative-convective equilibrium courtesy of Caroline Muller. The model is SAM (System for Atmospheric Modeling) the principal architect of which is Marat Khairoutdinov. Transparent shading is condensate concentration; colors on the surface indicate near-surface air temperature. See text for further description.
The starting point for most of my thinking regarding climate sensitivity is the simple 1-dimensional radiative-convective model introduced by Suki Manabe and Dick Wetherald in 1967. See also Manabe and Strickler, 1964. For an early review of this kind of modeling, see Ramanathan and Coakley, 1978. Sadly, Dick Wetherald passed away very recently; although it is a very small gesture, I would like to dedicate this post to his memory.