How Well Do Coupled Models Simulate Today's Climate?

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Information about climate and how it responds to increased greenhouse gas concentrations depends heavily on insight gained from numerical simulations by coupled climate models. The confidence placed in quantitative estimates of the rate and magnitude of future climate change is therefore strongly related to the quality of these models. In this study, we test the realism of several generations of coupled climate models, including those used for the 1995, 2001, and 2007 reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). By validating against observations of present climate, we show that the coupled models have been steadily improving over time and that the best models are converging toward a level of accuracy that is similar to observation-based analyses of the atmosphere.

Department of Meteorology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Thomas Reichler, Department of Meteorology, University of Utah, 135 S 1460 E, Rm 819 (WBB), Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0110, E-mail: thomas.reichler@utah.edu

Information about climate and how it responds to increased greenhouse gas concentrations depends heavily on insight gained from numerical simulations by coupled climate models. The confidence placed in quantitative estimates of the rate and magnitude of future climate change is therefore strongly related to the quality of these models. In this study, we test the realism of several generations of coupled climate models, including those used for the 1995, 2001, and 2007 reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). By validating against observations of present climate, we show that the coupled models have been steadily improving over time and that the best models are converging toward a level of accuracy that is similar to observation-based analyses of the atmosphere.

Department of Meteorology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Thomas Reichler, Department of Meteorology, University of Utah, 135 S 1460 E, Rm 819 (WBB), Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0110, E-mail: thomas.reichler@utah.edu
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