- Of the 17 climate change models examined, 14 were accurate enough to predict the effects of global warming.
- The researchers fed the actual emission levels into the models and the predictions matched what happened.
- This should boost confidence in current models, said a scientist.
Computer models used over the past five decades to predict the impact of future global warming have proven to be highly accurate so far, according to a new study.
Climatologists from the University of California at Berkeley, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and NASA evaluated climate models from the early 1970s to the late 2000s to see how well they predicted the actual global average temperature at the surface, based on levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. .
They also looked at how well the models fit the relationship between warming and changes in greenhouse gas levels.
Of the 17 climate projections examined, 14 observations actually matched after their publication, according to the study published Wednesday in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
(FOLLOWING: Global greenhouse gas emissions set to set another record this year)
It is difficult to estimate the amount of greenhouse gases that will be emitted in the future, as it involves human behavior, the health of the economy and government policy. Rolling back emissions regulations for new cars, for example, adds more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
“We didn’t focus on the ability of their crystal ball to predict future greenhouse gas emissions, because that’s a question for economists and energy modellers, not climatologistssaid Zeke Hausfather, a UC Berkeley doctoral student and lead author of the study, in a press release. “It is impossible to know exactly what the human emissions will be in the future. Physics, one can understand, is a deterministic system; Future emissions depend on human systems, which are not necessarily deterministic.”
So, according to Gizmodo’s Earther blog, the researchers put the actual amount of global greenhouse gas emissions in the models to see if they would accurately predict the increase in global temperature since the models were created.
This revealed that the models were quite accurate.
“The early models were so adept because the basic science behind the greenhouse effect and global warming is well established and quite simple“said Henri Drake, co-author of the study and doctoral student at MIT, told Mashable.
“The real message is that the warming we’ve been experiencing is pretty much exactly what climate models predicted 30 years ago,” Hausfather said. “It really gives us more confidence that today’s models are also doing things largely correctly.”
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