The future of climate modeling

Climatic Change 132:475-487 (2015)
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Recently a number of scientists have proposed substantial changes to the practice of climate modeling, though they disagree over what those changes should be. We provide an overview and critical examination of three leading proposals: the unified approach, the hierarchy approach and the pluralist approach. The unified approach calls for an accelerated development of high-resolution models within a seamless prediction framework. The hierarchy approach calls for more attention to the development and systematic study of hierarchies of related models, with the aim of advancing understanding. The pluralist approach calls for greater diversity in modeling efforts, including, on some of its variants, more attention to empirical modeling. After identifying some of the scientific and institutional challenges faced by these proposals, we consider their expected gains and costs, relative to a business-as-usual modeling scenario.We find the proposals to be complementary, having valuable synergies. But since resource limitations make it unlikely that all three will be pursued, we offer some reflections on more limited changes in climate modeling that seem well within reach and that can be expected to yield substantial benefits.

Author Profiles

Joel Katzav
University of Queensland
Wendy Parker
Virginia Tech


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