Thursday, April 21, 2011

This Model Is Not Quite As Pretty As Those Victoria's Secret Models.

The good news: The earth’s carbon cycle has natural negative feedbacks that reverse natural surges in carbon dioxide.

The bad news: We are spewing CO2 into the atmosphere 14,000 times faster than nature has over the past 600,000 years, far too quickly for those feedbacks to respond.

Current CO2 levels - 392.40ppm 

How Reliable Are the Models Used to Make Projections of Future Climate Change?

"...models are unanimous in their prediction of substantial climate warming under greenhouse gas increases, and this warming is of a magnitude consistent with independent estimates derived from other sources, such as from observed climate changes and past climate reconstructions."
There is considerable confidence that climate models provide credible quantitative estimates of future climate change, particularly at continental scales and above. This confidence comes from the foundation of the models in accepted physical principles and from their ability to reproduce observed features of current climate and past climate changes. Confidence in model estimates is higher for some climate variables (e.g., temperature) than for others (e.g., precipitation). Over several decades of development, models have consistently provided a robust and unambiguous picture of significant climate warming in response to increasing greenhouse gases.

Climate models are mathematical representations of the climate system, expressed as computer codes and run on powerful computers. One source of confidence in models comes from the fact that model fundamentals are based on established physical laws, such as conservation of mass, energy and momentum, along with a wealth of observations.

A second source of confidence comes from the ability of models to simulate important aspects of the current climate. Models are routinely and extensively assessed by comparing their simulations with observations of the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and land surface. Unprecedented levels of evaluation have taken place over the last decade in the form of organised multi-model ‘intercomparisons’. Models show significant and increasing skill in representing many important mean climate features, such as the large-scale distributions of atmospheric temperature, precipitation, radiation and wind, and of oceanic temperatures, currents and sea ice cover. Models can also simulate essential aspects of many of the patterns of climate variability observed across a range of time scales. Examples include the advance and retreat of the major monsoon systems, the seasonal shifts of temperatures, storm tracks and rain belts, and the hemispheric-scale seesawing of extratropical surface pressures (the Northern and Southern ‘annular modes’). Some climate models, or closely related variants, have also been tested by using them to predict weather and make seasonal forecasts. These models demonstrate skill in such forecasts, showing they can represent important features of the general circulation across shorter time scales, as well as aspects of seasonal and interannual variability. Models’ ability to represent these and other important climate features increases our confidence that they represent the essential physical processes important for the simulation of future climate change. (Note that the limitations in climate models’ ability to forecast weather beyond a few days do not limit their ability to predict long-term climate changes, as these are very different types of prediction.

There are still some unknowns that could send the projections off the what will happen if we "uncork" all the methane that is currently stored under the permafrost!


  1. Hey there....thanks for making contact.. I would have not know you were here....good to see another old friend from the stream.....

  2. Joram,
    A journalist by the name of Gwynn Dyer made mention of all the methane beneath the permafrost. I wonder if the Koch brothers and other deniers really think they can not only run but hide from the effects of their polluting ways.

  3. Joram,
    Another way the modeling programs are proven to be reliable is to run them backwards from current conditions to a known date in the past. If the model delivers data within some margin of certainty to those known conditions the model is valid. The models math being linear, if it works correctly in one direction, it works the other, positive or negative, a location along on line.

  4. Joram:

    This mathematical mode is a little too esoteric for the average layman to understand.