Climate Dynamics

, Volume 37, Issue 7–8, pp 1469–1482 | Cite as

Precalibrating an intermediate complexity climate model

  • Neil R. Edwards
  • David Cameron
  • Jonathan Rougier


Credible climate predictions require a rational quantification of uncertainty, but full Bayesian calibration requires detailed estimates of prior probability distributions and covariances, which are difficult to obtain in practice. We describe a simplified procedure, termed precalibration, which provides an approximate quantification of uncertainty in climate prediction, and requires only that uncontroversially implausible values of certain inputs and outputs are identified. The method is applied to intermediate-complexity model simulations of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) and confirms the existence of a cliff-edge catastrophe in freshwater-forcing input space. When uncertainty in 14 further parameters is taken into account, an implausible, AMOC-off, region remains as a robust feature of the model dynamics, but its location is found to depend strongly on values of the other parameters.


Uncertainty Probabilistic prediction Thermohaline circulation Intermediate complexity climate model 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the help of Andrew Price in performing large ensemble simulations, as well as support from the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) RAPID climate change programme (via the THCMIP project), the NERC QUEST programme and the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (via the UK Met Office). Part of this work was completed while Rougier was a Duke University Fellow at the Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute (SAMSI), Durham NC.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Neil R. Edwards
    • 1
  • David Cameron
    • 2
  • Jonathan Rougier
    • 3
  1. 1.Earth and Environmental SciencesThe Open UniversityMilton KeynesUK
  2. 2.Centre for Ecology and HydrologyEdinburghUK
  3. 3.Department of MathematicsUniversity of BristolBristolUK

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