Can Computer Models Predict Climate?

by Dr C. Essex, Apr 13,  2022 in BigPicturesNews

Guest post by Christopher Essex, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics and Physics, University of Western Ontario.

Christopher Essex

By Dr Christopher Essex

It is well known that daytime winter temperatures on Earth can fall well below -4°F (-20℃ ) in some places, even in midlatitudes, despite warming worries. Sometimes the surface can even drop below -40°F (-40℃ ), which is comparable to the surface of Mars. What is not so well known is that such cold winter days are colder than they would be with no atmosphere at all!

How can that be if the atmosphere is like a blanket, according to the standard greenhouse analogy? If the greenhouse analogy fails, what is climate?

Climate computer models in the 1960s could not account for this non-greenhouse-like picture. However modern computer models are better than those old models, but the climate implications of an atmosphere that cools as well as warms has not been embraced. Will computer models be able to predict climate after it is? The meteorological program for climate has been underway for more than 40 years. How did it do?

Feynman, Experiment and Climate Models
“Model” is used in a peculiar manner in the climate field. In other fields, models are usually formulated so that they can be found false in the face of evidence. From fundamental physics (the Standard Model) to star formation, a model is meant to be put to the test, no matter how meritorious.