30 Jun '11, 9pm

climate models create insufficient terror @grist

climate models create insufficient terror @grist

Sufficiently terrified. A new commentary in Nature Geosciences has pretty much ruined my whole Thursday. The details are technical but the takeaway point is this: the climate models currently in wide use (by, e.g., the IPCC) probably won't be able to predict abrupt climate changes . Those abrupt changes, popularly known as "tipping points," are the low(?)-probability, high-impact catastrophes that keep climate scientists up at night: shifts in ocean circulation, release of methane from permafrost, sudden collapse of ice sheets. They're scary because they'd be both devastating and irreversible -- civilization-threatening stuff. In the commentary, Paul Valdes reviews four examples of abrupt climate change from the historical record and finds that climate models don't do a good job simulating them. The models have to be retroactively tweaked to produce the conditions that end...

Full article: http://www.grist.org/climate-change/2011-06-30-climate-mo...

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