One of the Primary Models Used by the IPCC
As Freeman Dyson said, "The great advances in science usually result from new tools rather than from new doctrines." The telescope, the microscope, X-rays and MRIs, etc. Climate modeling software is such a tool, allowing us to make probabilistic estimates about what is likely to happen to our planet's if we do X or Y or Z. And while we can never be 100% sure about the future, our tools are getting more sophisticated (models take more things into account, faster computers allow more simulations to be run, better instruments and satellites allow better information gathering, etc). The Community Earth System Model (CESM) is one of the main tools of climate scientists, and a new version is out. Read on for more details.
The CESM is built by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and jointly supported by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Science Foundation, which is NCAR's sponsor. It will be one of the primary climate models used for the next assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), so it's a big deal.
The new model's advanced capabilities will help scientists shed light on some of the critical mysteries of global warming, including:
- What impact will warming temperatures have on the massive ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica?
- How will patterns in the ocean and atmosphere affect regional climate in coming decades?
- How will climate change influence the severity and frequency of tropical cyclones, including hurricanes?
- What are the effects of tiny airborne particles, known as aerosols, on clouds and temperatures?
Unlike most other climate modeling softwares, the CESM is freely available to all researchers worldwide and was developed by a community of scientists. A great way to pool all the best expertise together and to keep things transparent.
You can actually get the CESM here.
"With the Community Earth System Model, we can pursue scientific questions that we could not address previously," says NCAR scientist James Hurrell, chair of the scientific steering committee that developed the model. "Thanks to its improved physics and expanded biogeochemistry, it gives us a better representation of the real world." (source)
Decisions Under Uncertainty
When making decisions under uncertainty, you should use the best information that is available, even if that information is imperfect. If we wait for perfect information, it might be too late. And right now the best information that we have about our planet's climate comes from the people who are spending their lives studying it, not from the gut feeling of those who feel that "everything's gonna be all right" and "we don't have to worry about greenhouse gases".