Improving the use of evidence from climate models

Project 1a

Project staff: Leonard Smith, Piers Forster and Nancy Cartwright

This project asks: what might we learn from today’s climate models? This is a tremendously important question for the social science of climate change.

The evidence produced by complex computer simulation models has the capacity to make or break social scientific analysis, as well as the use of such information in decision-making by governments, businesses and households.

The hope is that adaptation planning will be informed by these predictions. Where does the balance lie?

The project is divided into two sections:

i) Interpreting climate models: climate science

Leaders: Leonard Smith and Piers Forster

This draws on computer science, physics and statistics to understand in detail the uncertainties in state-of-the-art climate models.

ii) Interpreting climate models

Leader: Nancy Cartwright

This applies the philosophy of science and the philosophy of social science to climate change modelling. It aims to understand and clarify the standards of evidence provided by climate models, linked to economic models, and to articulate the philosophical assumptions behind the predictive expectations projected on to these models.