Climate models that predict a greater increase in global warming are likely to be more accurate than other current models, a new study finds. Researchers came to this conclusion after studying and comparing different climate models with satellite observations.
Climate Change Models
Using climate models, scientists and climate experts can predict how warm the Earth's climate system would become as a result of greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane.
The problem is, however, the climate system is known to be very complex. There are also a number of climate models being used, which makes it very difficult for scientists to predict more accurately the exact outcome of global warming.
According to Patrick Brown, a scientist from the Carnegie Institution for Science, there is no general agreement on how to best model major features of the Earth's climate system.
Researchers Tried To Work Out Which Models Worked Best
In the new study published in the journal Nature, researchers from the Carnegie Institution for Science decided to resolve this problem by examining climate models that scientists have been using to predict the future of the planet.
The researchers tried to compare the results of these models with satellite observations of the Earth's atmosphere, including the amount of energy coming in and going out as well as the amount of radiation being released from the planet. The best models, according to them, were the ones that can also simulate the climate patterns of the recent past.
Most Severe Global Warming Predictions More Likely To Be Accurate
The models that performed best, they found, generally predicted a greater increase of global warming compared to other current models such as the ones used by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
"It makes sense that the models that do the best job at simulating today's observations might be the models with the most reliable predictions," said Ken Caldeira, an atmospheric scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science.
"Our study indicates that if emissions follow a commonly used business-as-usual scenario, there is a 93 percent chance that global warming will exceed 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of this century. Previous studies had put this likelihood at 62 percent," Caldeira added.
This means that, by the end of the century, the temperature of the Earth's climate system could rise even higher than what scientists currently predicted. Most models and predictions, including the UN's forecast, have underestimated global warming temperatures by 15 percent.
A previous study conducted by researchers from the University of Washington shows that there is a 90 percent likelihood that global temperatures will rise anywhere from 2 degrees to 4.9 degrees Celsius by 2100.