Confessions In The News On The “Predictability” Of The Climate System

I was alerted to a post on Climate Progress (h/t to Dan Hughes) titled

Another terrific ABC News story — on the role global warming is playing in extreme winter weather

where it is written

“ABC news contacted 10 climate scientists to ask their take, if the extreme winter like the one we’re having is the way of the future.  The consensus:  global warming is playing a role by shifting weather patterns in unpredictable ways.  Many say the forecast for the future calls for record-breaking precipitation and extreme temperatures year-round — and that means winter with more snow”

This statement encapsulates where we are in being able to predict the climate in the coming years and decades. Climate, as affected by both natural and human forcings and feedback, is unpredictable on these time scales!

The message that weather patterns shift in unpredictable ways is one the policymakers and others should recognize. While added CO2 undoubtedly plays a role, there are other first order human climate forcings as well as the effect of poorly understood natural variations.

As we wrote in our paper

Pielke Sr., R., K. Beven, G. Brasseur, J. Calvert, M. Chahine, R. Dickerson, D. Entekhabi, E. Foufoula-Georgiou, H. Gupta, V. Gupta, W. Krajewski, E. Philip Krider, W. K.M. Lau, J. McDonnell,  W. Rossow,  J. Schaake, J. Smith, S. Sorooshian,  and E. Wood, 2009: Climate change: The need to consider human forcings besides greenhouse gases. Eos, Vol. 90, No. 45, 10 November 2009, 413. Copyright (2009) American Geophysical Union

we concluded, with respect to human climate forcings,  that

“…..the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment did not sufficiently acknowledge the importance of these other human climate forcings in altering regional and global climate and their effects on predictability at the regional scale.”

The hypothesis that we reported in our paper as being supported by real world data is

“Although the natural causes of climate variations and changes are undoubtedly important, the human influences are significant and involve a diverse range of first-order climate forcings, including, but not limited to, the human input of carbon dioxide (CO2). Most, if not all, of these human influences on regional and global climate will continue to be of concern during the coming decades”

differs significantly from the 2007 IPCC conclusions.

The ABC news article interview of the climate scientists is actually a confession of the failure of the scientific robustness of the 2007 IPCC WG 1 report.

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