Website to investigate climate models

Published: Saturday 31 March 2007

While scientists are more or less agreed on the anthropogenicity of climate change, there are a number of models to measure the problem's gravity. The site under review investigates the approximations that have to be made in state-of-the-art climate models. By running the model thousands of times (a 'large ensemble'), the authors of this site hope to discover how the model responds to slight tweaks to these approximations--slight enough to not make the approximations any less realistic. This tweaking, they claim, will help us improve our understanding of how sensitive our models are to small changes and to things like variations in carbon dioxide levels and the sulphur cycle.

This will also allow us to explore how climate may change in the next century under a wide range of scenarios. In the past, estimates of climate change have had to be made using one or, at best, a very small ensemble (tens rather than thousands) of model runs. We can improve our understanding of, and confidence in, predictions more than would be possible using supercomputers currently available.

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