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What are the results provided by state-of-the-art climate models? This chapter provides some perspective on current results and modeling efforts, taking into account the description of the climate system, climate models, and uncertainty. Selected results of recent climate model simulations are used to characterize and frame model uncertainties. The goal is to understand the uncertainty in climate model predictions of the future. A prediction without uncertainty, or with the wrong uncertainty, may be worse than no prediction at all. First, we briefly review some of the history and organization of modeling efforts. Second, we discuss what we want to know (predict) and how to use uncertainty. Third, we review the confidence in current predictions. Some climate model predictions have high confidence, for example, global average temperature. Other predictions are less certain, such as regional precipitation, sea ice and the carbon cycle. Highly uncertain predictions are most likely to be ‘wrong’ in that the actual result is out of the range of uncertainty. Sea level rise predictions dependent on ice sheet melt are an example of this. Predicting changes in extreme events such as tropical cyclones or floods presents unique issues. An example of prediction of regional climate and extremes in Colorado is used as an example.
World Climate Research Program, “Coupled Model Intercomparison Project,” http://cmip-pcmdi.llnl.gov.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, http://www.ipcc.ch.
IPCC. (2013). “Summary for Policymakers.” In T. F. Stocker, et al., eds. Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Moss, R. H. (2011). “Reducing Doubt About Uncertainty: Guidance for IPCC’s Third Assessment.” Climatic Change, 108(4): 641–658. doi: 10.1007/s10584-011-0182-x.
Box, G. E. P., & Draper, N. R. (1987). Empirical Model-Building and Response Surfaces. New York: Wiley, p. 424.
Moss, R., & Schneider, S. H. (2000). “Uncertainties–Guidance Papers on the Cross Cutting Issues of the Third Assessment Report of the IPCC.” World Meteorological Organisation: 33–51.
Mastrandrea, M. D., Field, C. B., Stocker, T. F., Edenhofer, O., Ebi, K. L., Frame, D., et al. (2010). Guidance Note for Lead Authors of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report on Consistent Treatment of Uncertainties. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 2010. Retrieved from http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/supporting-material/uncertainty-guidance-note.pdf.
He, J., Soden, B. J., & Kirtman, B. (2014). “The Robustness of the Atmospheric Circulation and Precipitation Response to Future Anthropogenic Surface Warming.” Geophysical Research Letters, 41(7): 2614–2622.
Hawkins, E., & Sutton, R. (2009). “The Potential to Narrow Uncertainty in Regional Climate Prediction.” Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 90(8): 1095–1107.
Stroeve, J. C., Serreze, M. C., Holland, M. M., Kay, J. E., Malanik, J., & Barrett, A. P. (2012). “The Arctic’s Rapidly Shrinking Sea Ice Cover: A Research Synthesis.” Climatic Change, 110(3 4): 1005–1027.
See, for example, Bamber, J. L., & Aspinall, W. P. (2013). “An Expert Judgement Assessment of Future Sea Level Rise From the Ice Sheets.” Nature Climate Change, 3:424–427.
These projections of sea-level rise come from the 2013 IPCC report.
Rahmstorf, S., Foster, G., & Cazenave, A. (2012). “Comparing Climate Projections to Observations up to 2011.” Environmental Research Letter, 7:044035.
Zwally, H. J., Giovinetto, M. B., Li, J., Cornejo, H. G., Beckley, M. A., Brenner, A. C., et al. (2005). “Mass Changes of the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets and Shelves and Contributions to Sea-Level Rise: 1992–2002.” Journal of Glaciology, 51(175): 509–527.
Veliconga, I., & Wahr, J. (2005). “Greenland Mass Balance From GRACE.” Geophysical Research Letter, 32:L18505. doi: 10.1029/2005GL023955.
Van den Broeke, M., Bamber, J., Ettema, J., Rignot, E., Schrama, E., Jan van de Berg, W., et al. (2009). “Partitioning Recent Greenland Mass Loss.” Science, 326(5955): 984–986.
For an overview and some great pictures, see Appenzeller, T. (2007). “The Big Thaw.” National Geographic, 211(6): 56–71.
Climate Change and Aspen Impact Assessment, 2014, http://www.aspenpitkin.com/Portals/0/docs/City/GreenInitiatives/Canary/GI_canary_ClimateChangeAspen2014.pdf.
Kent, J., Jablonowski, C., Whitehead, J. P., & Rood, R. B. (2014). “Determining the Effective Resolution of Advection Schemes. Part II: Numerical Testing.” Journal of Computational Physics, 278: 497–508.
Climate Change and Aspen Impact Assessment, 2006, http://www.aspenpitkin.com/Portals/0/docs/City/GreenInitiatives/Canary/2006_CCA.pdf.
Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, Round 3. Reported on in Solomon, S., Qin, D., Manning, M., Chen, Z., Marquis, M., Averyt, K. B., et al., eds. (2007). Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis: Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, Round 5. Reported on in IPCC (2013). See note 3.
See also Colorado Climate Change Vulnerability Study, 2015, http://wwa.colorado.edu/climate/co2015vulnerability/co_vulnerability_report_2015_final.pdf.
- Results of Current Models
Richard B. Rood
- Springer Berlin Heidelberg
- Chapter 11