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Climate Model Confirmation: From Philosophy to Predicting Climate in the Real World

  • Reto Knutti
Chapter

Abstract

Philosophical perspectives on numerical models help us to understand concepts, but will not predict the climate in the future. Studying climate model results in isolation on the other hand may seduce us to believe what we simulate will actually happen. A model is neither correct nor wrong as such; it is simply more or less useful as a representational tool for a certain purpose. I argue that process understanding is the key to make judgments about when this tool is adequate for insight relevant to certain aspects of the real world. It is only through understanding the relationships in components and variables of the climate and their representation in models, combined with understanding what our models are supposed to do, that we can make better use of them.

Notes

Acknowledgments

I thank Christoph Baumberger, Gertrude Hirsch Hadorn, Lisa Lloyd, Maria Rugenstein, Wendy Parker, and Eric Winsberg for constructive comments and discussions, which have helped to clarify my thinking and have greatly improved this manuscript.

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Authors and Affiliations

  • Reto Knutti
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental Systems ScienceInstitute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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