Funded by Vollmer W. Fries Lecture Series
“if we had observations of the future, we obviously would trust them more than models, but unfortunately observations of the future are not available at this time.” (Knutson and Tuleya, 2005)
Climate change is ongoing, and trying to explain what is happening now, and what might happen in the future are key tasks that require large-scale complex climate models of the atmosphere, ocean, land surface and cryosphere. But how well do such models perform? Can they predict climate changes in the face of the chaotic dynamics of weather? How have they performed so far? I will discuss how the credibility of model results can be established and what are the current limitations. This involves assessing short term climate variability, the response of the climate system to external factors (such as variability of the sun or large volcanic eruptions), paleo-climate information and how model-data discrepancies get resolved. I will (hopefully) demonstrate that while climate models are by no means perfect, they can be very useful.
Gavin Schmidt is a climate modeller and deputy chief at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York and is interested in modeling past, present and future climate. He received a BA (Hons) in Mathematics from Oxford University, a PhD in Applied Mathematics from University College London and was a NOAA Postdoctoral Fellow in Climate and Global Change Research. He has worked on education and outreach with the American Museum of Natural History and the New York Academy of Sciences. He has over 100 peer-reviewed publications and is the co-author with Josh Wolfe of “Climate Change: Picturing the Science” (W. W. Norton, 2009), a collaboration between climate scientists and photographers. He was awarded the inaugural AGU Climate Communications Prize in 2011.