Thursday, August 13, 2015

Can we trust climate models ?

We trust that climate change is happening. Data said it. IPCC reports, and the studies related, said it. A reliable site details all of it. And I personally trust the conclusions I read. 100%.

However, as modellers, or scientists, we have to continue to investigate about models reliability. All of my scientific activity is in discussing issues related to land-atmosphere interactions, where I know there is much road to run in front to us, and land-atmosphere interactions in climate models are not an exception.
A few readings made me to write this blogpost. The first brought to my attention this TEDx talk by Steve Easterbrook, in which he analyses how Climate Models are built, in order to justify their correctness. Interesting is also his paper on GMD that treats the case.  He, and coauthor, J. Pipitone,  applied methods of software analysis to infer models quality.  I found the method they used interesting but not decisive (not applicable to my model for instance). However the introduction, and the overall arguments in their paper,  are a point of view to keep firmly in mind.  Nice the discussion about what is a good model for scientists, as compared to what is a good model for others, for instance computer scientists.
In my opinion, Climate Science is not settled; relatively yes: detractors' arguments are really very weak.  But that there is much work to do and big room for improvements is indeed a fact.
Here it comes the other paper, by I.C. Prentice (GS), recently published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, where he also presents a nice and informative review of climate models. The paper, when it goes to the details of what a new model should be is pretty much VIC+ oriented (which could  be  not  new enough to some), but it is crystal clear in singling out some of the more important aspects of the matter.  Reading it is good.

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