Researchers use computer simulations of the actual world to study and forecast how climate change will occur. To understand how water and air circulate, heat up, and cool down in the oceans and atmospheres and how pollutants react in the atmosphere. The interactions between molecules, these mathematical models are based on the fundamental laws of physics and chemistry.

Models incorporate data from various sources, including observations of the sun rays, the atmosphere, oceans, mountains, volcanoes, and the terrestrial biosphere. They’re based on facts and projections about how much carbon dioxide and other climate-changing pollutants humans will produce in the future.

The climate is changing due to human activity, and the average global temperature and sea level are expected to rise in the future. Also, the weather is expected to change. This particular forecast varied mainly because each model contains alternative approaches to describe unpredictable components like clouds.

What Is The Difference Between Weather Forecasts And Climate Predictions?

Climate models are designed to anticipate what will happen over the years or even decades. Climate modeling is comparable to weather forecasting in physics, but the problems are distinct. 

Forecasts for the weather include, 

  • The daily temperatures
  • The amount of rain or snow that might fall
  • The speed of the wind

Climate models take a long-term view of the situation. They want to know how the average circumstances will change for the world and specific places. How much rain or snow can we expect in the next year or two? Temperatures and cloud cover will fluctuate significantly in our daily routines. Where are the ocean’s high tides expected to reach? Hurricanes, winter storms, floods, droughts, and wildfires are all examples of severe weather.

Data-driven weather forecasting has been a scientific success story for 50 years. The same degree of success is now being sought by scientists when making predictions about the climate system.

How Do Researchers Test Climate Models?

Earth surface temperatures have been predicted reliably by models produced from 1970 to the early 2000s. The only way to ensure the accuracy of today’s models is to follow the rules of physics and chemistry.

If a model’s predictions match historical weather data, one method of testing or validating models is to put in data from a start date several decades ago. Researchers can identify and investigate critical differences and conflicts among models by comparing them against one another.

How Do The Changes In Greenhouse Gas Emissions Affect Climate Models?

Human activities contribute to the emission of greenhouse gasses that impact the climate. Policies, economics, and social issues all influence these emissions. For this reason, scientists run climate models using input based on a wide variety of conceivable emission scenarios. Using these scenarios, we can predict how much greenhouse gas emissions and smog-forming air pollution will increase in various parts of the world during the next century. It helps to understand the spectrum of future climatic situations better.

What Is Caltech’s Role In Climate Model Development?

Caltech scientists have been studying planets’ atmospheres for decades. And their research has helped us grasp the chemistry and physics of clouds, air pollution, and airborne particles. These efforts have accelerated since Caltech’s Ronald and Maxine Linde Center for Global Environmental Science was established in 2012. JPL researchers collaborate with Caltech geoscientists and chemists to build Earth-observing missions. The data gathered by these missions aid in our knowledge of the Earth’s many systems.

There is now a model being created by CliMA, which comprises researchers from Caltech, MIT, the Naval Postgraduate School, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Next-generation climate models incorporate existing models with data from satellites and other sources.