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OMG!!!! Climate Models Might Be Wrong!

July 14th, 2009 · 2 Comments

Expect lots of global warming denier screaming headline titles about a new paper on climate modeling and the press release on it from Rice University.  The title of that press release:

Global warming: Our best guess is likely wrong

Unknown processes account for much of warming in ancient hot spell

“Global warming: Our best guess is likely wrong”.  OMG!!!!  

No one knows exactly how much Earth’s climate will warm due to carbon emissions, but a new study this week suggests scientists’ best predictions about global warming might be incorrect. … “In a nutshell, theoretical models cannot explain what we observe in the geological record,” said oceanographer Gerald Dickens, a co-author of the study and professor of Earth science at Rice University. “There appears to be something fundamentally wrong with the way temperature and carbon are linked in climate models.”

Yet again, a good piece of scientific research and analysis which raises questions about whether climate models are sufficiently robust to explain climate change and all the interacting forcing functions — both natural and manmade.  Yes, it raises questions — meaningful questions.  But, not the questions that deniers will shout from the rooftops and the sorts of implications that we should expect from Senator James Inhofe (R-Exxon).

Having read the press release and the published study, the quick summary:

  1. The study examines a 10,000 (or so) year period (Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (about 55 million years ago)) which saw a 70% increase in carbon and applies modeling seeking to examine the impact of anything from a 50% increase (400 ppm) to a quadrupling of carbon concentrations (1000 ppm+) in a several hundred year program.
  2. The PETM saw a 7 degree C (13 degree F) increase in temperature over 10,000 years, roughly a 1 degree F increase in temperature every 970 years. Roughly, during the anthropocene era (modern times), there has been a 1 degree F increase in temperature over the last century — an order of magnitude faster than what seems to have occurred during the PETM period.
  3. If anything, this suggests situation might be far worse than current models predict because a 70% increase in Co2 saw a 7 degree C increase in temperature which is well beyond anything predicted by a 70% increase in Co2 levels over pre-industrial era carbon dioxide concentrations (or roughly 450 ppm).
A first order conclusion from reading the published study:

And, thus, OMG!!!! The climate models might be wrong!!!! The situation might be far worse than they predict!


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Tags: carbon dioxide · climate change · Global Warming

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Representative Linder: Truthiness is a lazy man’s game // Dec 4, 2009 at 6:20 am

    […] John, we are in agreement: the climate models are wrong. Sadly, though, they have been consistently wrong by being over optimistic as to the threat that we […]

  • 2 Making reporters understand errors in context … // Feb 13, 2010 at 8:43 am

    […] of reasons such as the mandate to look backwards at already published peer-reviewed literature and inadequate modeling of positive feedbacks (positive feedback, unlike at the work place, is actual negative). Thus, rather than some form of […]