02 August 2007

Global climate modeling is really, really hard...

...but maybe your computer can help:
climateprediction.net

And MathTrek has a nice article explaining why even the science beneath the politics inflames so much controversy:
Cloudy Crystal Balls

"Climate models may never produce predictions that agree with one another, even with dramatic improvements in their ability to imitate the physics and chemistry of the atmosphere and oceans. That's the conclusion of a report by James McWilliams, an applied mathematician and earth scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles. The mathematics of complex models guarantees that they will differ from one another, he argues...
...
"Even so, climate models produce critically valuable information. Models have brought about major improvements in scientists' understanding of the dynamics of climate. Furthermore, McWilliams says that discrepancies among models do not undermine the most crucial conclusion of climate modeling—-the notion that increased levels of greenhouse gases emitted by people are causing the Earth to warm and will continue to do so. He notes that every credible climate model ever made has pointed to that same conclusion. 'All sorts of smart climate scientists have tried to produce a model that doesn't show future warming,' he says, 'and no one has been able to in a credible way.'
...
"...A group at the University of Oxford in England runs a project called Climateprediction.net which uses the computing power of volunteers around the world to run about 150,000 variations on a climate model that the researchers have developed. Their first round of results showed that climate models can predict a much broader range of possible future warming than models have previously shown...

"Nevertheless, McWilliams' argument is controversial in the modeling community..."

4 Comments:

At 02 August, 2007 17:59, Blogger Nora said...

Jesus, I just finished reading "The Republican War on Science" by Chris Mooney... god does that relate to what this is about. If the republicans would stop making scientific disagreements into contraversies we would all be better off.

 
At 02 August, 2007 18:07, Blogger Jennifer said...

Hmm, is that worth reading? I've been wanting to, but I just finished What's the Matter with Kansas? and now I'm in a funk.

 
At 03 August, 2007 11:13, Blogger David Johnsen said...

If it makes you feel any better, pro-choice Democrats started taking back Kansas in the 2006 election.

I wrote a sort-of pseudo-review of The Republican War on Science two years ago (I didn't read the whole thing, but I read an excerpt plus a couple of interviews with the author). I'm not sure if you would like the book or if it would just make you angry.

 
At 03 August, 2007 12:39, Blogger Jennifer said...

See, this is what I like about astrophysics--no one else really cares (except for admiring the pretty pictures, of course). We don't have policymakers, lobbyists, corporations, special-interest groups, celebrities, and grassroots organizations shouting and flinging money at each other over whether radio-quiet Seyfert 1 and Seyfert 2 galaxies are actually the same thing. Although it might be pretty cool if we did...

 

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