Climatic Change

, Volume 122, Issue 1–2, pp 271–282 | Cite as

A framework for testing the ability of models to project climate change and its impacts

  • J. C. RefsgaardEmail author
  • H. Madsen
  • V. Andréassian
  • K. Arnbjerg-Nielsen
  • T. A. Davidson
  • M. Drews
  • D. P. Hamilton
  • E. Jeppesen
  • E. Kjellström
  • J. E. Olesen
  • T. O. Sonnenborg
  • D. Trolle
  • P. Willems
  • J. H. Christensen


Models used for climate change impact projections are typically not tested for simulation beyond current climate conditions. Since we have no data truly reflecting future conditions, a key challenge in this respect is to rigorously test models using proxies of future conditions. This paper presents a validation framework and guiding principles applicable across earth science disciplines for testing the capability of models to project future climate change and its impacts. Model test schemes comprising split-sample tests, differential split-sample tests and proxy site tests are discussed in relation to their application for projections by use of single models, ensemble modelling and space-time-substitution and in relation to use of different data from historical time series, paleo data and controlled experiments. We recommend that differential-split sample tests should be performed with best available proxy data in order to build further confidence in model projections.


Regional Climate Model Climate Change Impact Validation Test Model Projection Ensemble Modelling 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The present study was funded by a grant from the Danish Council for Strategic Research for the project Centre for Regional Change in the Earth System (CRES— under contract no: DSF-EnMi 09-066868.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. C. Refsgaard
    • 1
    Email author
  • H. Madsen
    • 2
  • V. Andréassian
    • 3
  • K. Arnbjerg-Nielsen
    • 4
  • T. A. Davidson
    • 5
  • M. Drews
    • 6
  • D. P. Hamilton
    • 7
  • E. Jeppesen
    • 8
  • E. Kjellström
    • 9
  • J. E. Olesen
    • 10
  • T. O. Sonnenborg
    • 1
  • D. Trolle
    • 8
  • P. Willems
    • 11
  • J. H. Christensen
    • 12
  1. 1.Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS)Copenhagen KDenmark
  2. 2.DHIHørsholmDenmark
  3. 3.IRSTEAAntonyFrance
  4. 4.Technical University of DenmarkLyngbyDenmark
  5. 5.Aarhus UniversitySilkeborgDenmark
  6. 6.Technical University of DenmarkRoskildeDenmark
  7. 7.Environmental Research InstituteUniversity of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand
  8. 8.Department of BioscienceAarhus UniversitySilkeborgDenmark
  9. 9.Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological InstituteNorrköpingSweden
  10. 10.Aarhus UniversityTjeleDenmark
  11. 11.KU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  12. 12.Danish Meteorological InstituteCopenhagen ØDenmark

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