Evaluation of climate models


Flato, G, J Marotzke, B Abiodun, P Braconnot, SC Chou, W Collins, P Cox, et al. 2013. “Evaluation of climate models.” Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. New York: Cambridge University Press.


Climate models have continued to be developed and improved since the AR4, and many models have been extended into Earth System models by including the representation of biogeochemical cycles important to climate change. These models allow for policy-relevant calculations such as the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions compatible with a specified climate stabilization target. In addition, the range of climate variables and processes that have been evaluated has greatly expanded, and differences between models and observations are increasingly quantified using ‘performance metrics’. In this chapter, model evaluation covers simulation of the mean climate, of historical climate change, of variability on multiple time scales and of regional modes of variability. This evaluation is based on recent internationally coordinated model experiments, including simulations of historic and paleo climate, specialized experiments designed to provide insight into key climate processes and feedbacks and regional climate downscaling. Figure 9.44 provides an overview of model capabilities as assessed in this chapter, including improvements, or lack thereof, relative to models assessed in the AR4. The chapter concludes with an assessment of recent work connecting model performance to the detection and attribution of climate change as well as to future projections.

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Last updated on 04/24/2019