Thursday, July 07, 2011

Are Climate Models Giving Us a False Sense of Security?

Climate models, those vast computer simulations, seem to prompt inevitable criticism from climate change skeptics and the fossil fuel industry and its paid political pals.  It's easy to attack these climate models because most of them haven't been very accurate.  Time and again they've turned out to understate the severity of the impacts forecast or the speed of their onset.  We're already seeing changes, in global precipitation for one example, that just a few years ago were predicted to be upon us a decade or two down the road.

Now a study published in Nature Geoscience concludes that the methodology of climate modelling shows that they're unreliable, potentially even dangerous.

It is a huge leap of faith to assume that simulations of the coming century with these models will provide reliable warning of sudden, catastrophic events.

The author contends that climate models have no ability to reflect the abrupt climate change events that have occurred in the past, climate change that seems disconnected from apparent forcing events - the stuff we refer to ominously today as "tipping points."

In the meantime, we need to be cautious. If anything, the models are underestimating change, compared with the geological record. According to the evidence from the past, the Earth's climate is sensitive to small changes, whereas the climate models seem to require a much bigger disturbance to produce abrupt change. Simulations of the coming century with the current generation of complex models may be giving us a false sense of security.

But, of course, the whole climate science field is beset by 'consensus' requirements that ensure it will never be remotely in tune with actual events but always trail well behind with political action even much further behind that.

1 comment:

LMA said...

It's interesting that the Greenland ice cores indicate large amounts of atmospheric methane, since IPCC models do not include the effects of methane release from the Arctic tundra and seabed.