How accurate are climate models?

Article by Hazell Ransome.

Climate models have been making accurate predictions for the past 50 years [1] and have advanced significantly since then [2]. For example, the models used in a scientific report written by thousands of scientists in 2013, replicated observations of global surface temperatures with a 99% success rate [3]!

Nowadays models can make predictions based on a huge range of aspects of the climate system [4].

So will it ever be possible to make a perfect model?

Sadly not! Models can never be 100% accurate [5]. For this to happen scientists would need to understand and be able to simulate every aspect of the climate system [6] and know exactly how each and every one of us would act in the future which, without a crystal ball, is clearly quite difficult [7,8]!

However, a key point to realise is that climate models don’t need to predict the future to be useful!

Climate models are helpful because they give policymakers a range of possible future changes [9,10] given certain policy actions [11,12]. We’ll talk about this more in the next post!


[1] (See: Paragraph 1… and whole article)

[2] (See: Executive Summary Paragraph 1)

[3] Technical Summary, IPCC 5th Assessment Report, 2018 (See: Box TS.4 Paragraph 2)
(20 climate models used for image)

[4] (See: Executive Summary Paragraph 1)

[5] (See: Section 3 Paragraph 1)

[6] (See: Uncertainty: Scientific and Social First Part)

[7] (See: Paragraph 2 and 3 section 5)

[8] (See: Partitioning uncertainty para 1)

[9] (See: Abstract)
And (See: Introduction)

[10] (See: Introduction paragraph 1)

[11] (See: 3.3.1 paragraph 2)

[12] Summary and Conclusion Paragraph 4)

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