Perpetuating The Climate Science Community’s Inappropriate Model-Centered Reality

There is a second meeting summary in the May 2011 issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society that further documents the inappropriate focus (in my view) on models as the centerpiece of climate research [the post on the other meeting summary was posted here last week]. The appropriate foundation (cornerstone) for all scientific studies must be real world observations!

The meeting summary is reported in

Potter, Gerald L., David C. Bader, Michael Riches, Anjuli Bamzai, Renu Joseph, 2011: Celebrating Two Decades of the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 92, 629–631 doi: 10.1175/2011BAMS3018.1

where they write

“The importance of model intercomparison is now broadly recognized as a cornerstone of climate model evaluation and error identification.”

Model comparisons, however, must be with real-time data as their primary focus! Rather than move back to observationally based science, the climate scientists who authored this report write

“The success of the effort by PCMDI and the CMIP phase 3 (CMIP3) organization has led to an even more ambitious effort envisioned for the next IPCC assessment: PCMDI will be the central clearinghouse for a much larger-scale set of experiments, including decadal predictions with model resolutions near 50 km, first-generation earth system models (ESMs) with a coupled carbon cycle, and lower-resolution models for long-term feedback studies.”

Eventually, policymakers and the public are going to realize that, instead of models being used to assist in the understanding of climate processes and interpretation of real-world observations, they are being misrepresented as the fundamental pillar of climate science.

As written in

Fildes, R. and N. Kourentzes, 2011: Validation and forecasting accuracy in models of climate change. International Journal of Forecasting. doi 10.1016/j.ijforecast.2011.03.008,

for example, they concluded

“The omissions in Chapter 10 of the IPCC report and most of the subsequent research lie in the lack of evidence that the models actually produce good forecasts.”

“…..climate modellers have raised ‘completeness’ in model building above all other criteria when evaluating the model validity. It is not a criterion that earlier simulation modellers have ever regarded as dominant (Kleindorfer et al., 1998); rather, it has often been regarded as a diversion that detracts from both understanding and forecast accuracy.”

“…the structural weaknesses in the GCM identified here suggest that a reliance on the policy implications from the general circulation models, and in particular the primary emphasis on controlling global CO2 emissions, is misguided (a conclusion which others have reached by following a different line of argument, see Pielke Sr. et al., 2009).”

“The scientific community of global climate modellers has surely taken unnecessary risks in raising the stakes so high when depending on forecasts and models that have many weaknesses.”

The bottom line is that vast amounts of money has been spent (and much more is planned to be spent) on model simulations that are not rooted in adequate comparisons with real world data.

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