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Analysis: How well have climate models projected global warming?


knocker

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Posted
  • Location: Camborne
  • Location: Camborne
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Scientists have been making projections of future global warming using climate models of increasing complexity for the past four decades.

These models, driven by atmospheric physics and biogeochemistry, play an important role in our understanding of the Earth’s climate and how it will likely change in the future.

Carbon Brief has collected prominent climate model projections since 1973 to see how well they project both past and future global temperatures, as shown in the animation below.

https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-how-well-have-climate-models-projected-global-warming

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Posted
  • Location: Fettercain/Edzell
  • Location: Fettercain/Edzell

I'm quite happy, for the sake of completeness, to read contrarian opinions.

However, no matter how climate change is spun, the global temperature trend is up, it's obvious, and I cannot extract any reliable information which indicates that this trend is not, in the main, anthropogenic.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Posted
  • Location: Camborne
  • Location: Camborne

Evaluating the performance of past climate model projections

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Abstract

Retrospectively comparing future model projections to observations provides a robust and independent test of model skill. Here we analyse the performance of climate models published between 1970 and 2007 in projecting future global mean surface temperature (GMST) changes. Models are compared to observations based on both the change in GMST over time and the change in GMST over the change in external forcing. The latter approach accounts for mismatches in model forcings, a potential source of error in model projections independent of the accuracy of model physics. We find that climate models published over the past five decades were skillful in predicting subsequent GMST changes, with most models examined showing warming consistent with observations, particularly when mismatches between model‐projected and observationally‐estimated forcings were taken into account.

Plain Language Summary

Climate models provide an important way to understand future changes in the Earth's climate. In this paper we undertake a thorough evaluation of the performance of various climate models published between the early 1970s and the late 2000s. Specifically, we look at how well models project global warming in the years after they were published by comparing them to observed temperature changes. Model projections rely on two things to accurately match observations: accurate modeling of climate physics, and accurate assumptions around future emissions of CO2 and other factors affecting the climate. The best physics‐based model will still be inaccurate if it is driven by future changes in emissions that differ from reality. To account for this, we look at how the relationship between temperature and atmospheric CO2 (and other climate drivers) differs between models and observations. We find that climate models published over the past five decades were generally quite accurate in predicting global warming in the years after publication, particularly when accounting for differences between modeled and actual changes in atmospheric CO2 and other climate drivers. This research should help resolve public confusion around the performance of past climate modeling efforts, and increases our confidence that models are accurately projecting global warming.

https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/2019GL085378

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