Dec 4, 2019

The simplest of climate models run decades ago accurately projected global warming

Andrew Freedman
Washington Post
Global Warming from 1970 - 2019. Credit: Berkley Earth
Global Warming from 1970 - 2019. Credit: Berkley Earth

Signals Summary: Since the late 1970s, scientists have known that global warming is occurring due to the increase in greenhouse gases from human activities, primarily burning fossil fuels and deforestation. 

Article Excerpt: It’s a common refrain from those who question mainstream climate science findings: The computer models scientists use to project future global warming are inaccurate and shouldn’t be trusted to help policymakers decide whether to take potentially expensive steps to rein in greenhouse gas emissions.

A new study effectively snuffs out that argument by looking at how climate models published between 1970 — before such models were the supercomputer-dependent behemoths of physical equations covering glaciers, ocean pH and vegetation, as they are today — and 2007.

The study, published Wednesday in Geophysical Research Letters, finds that most of the models examined were uncannily accurate in projecting how much the world would warm in response to increasing amounts of planet-warming greenhouse gases.


“The big takeaway is that climate models have been around a long time, and in terms of getting the basic temperature of the Earth right, they’ve been doing that for a long time,” [University of California researcher Zeke] Hausfather said in an interview.