Have climate models overestimated global warming?

Saturday, June 1, 2024
By John Mason

Climate models have correctly predicted how the planet would warm due to human greenhouse gas emissions.

Models use the laws of physics to probe Earth’s climate system - this being the atmosphere, oceans, land and biosphere. They apply what are known as external forcings to that system, such as changes in incoming sunshine or greenhouse gas levels, to see how the climate may change over time.

In a 2019 study, the temperature predictions from 17 climate models used between 1970 and 2007 were compared to observed temperatures. The study concluded the models were "skillful in predicting" future temperatures.

A more recent study published in 2023 looked at climate models created by scientists working for ExxonMobil. Their modeling was found to have been just as accurate as that developed within academia, with average projected warming within the same bounds as that of academic and government bodies from 1970-2007.

This fact brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.
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