BER launches Environmental System Science Program. Visit our new website under construction!

U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights


Exploring the Role of Climate Model Quality in Detection and Attribution Studies
Published: August 24, 2009
Posted: August 27, 2009

Observed climate change represents a complex mixture of internally generated noise and responses to external forcing. "Fingerprint" studies, which seek to identify the causes of recent climate change, involve rigorous statistical comparisons of modeled and observed climate change patterns.  DOE sponsored scientists led by PI Santer in 2007 used a suite of 22 Coupled Climate Models in conjunction with satellite observations to indicate unambiguously that changes in atmospheric water vapor have a human "fingerprint." Their 2007 study adopted a democratic "one model, one vote" approach in which each of the 22 models received equal weight in the analysis despite large differences in the ability of the models to simulate important features of present-day climate.  The group calculated a total of 70 different metrics of model performance, repeating their original fingerprint analysis with various sets of "top ten" and "bottom ten" models.  They find that restricting the fingerprint analysis to "better" models does not affect the ability to identify a human-caused fingerprint in satellite records of water vapor changes.  This work links and highlights DOE's expertise in both climate model evaluation and climate change detection and attribution.

Reference: Santer, B. D., K. E. Taylor, P. J. Gleckler, C. Bonfils, T. P. Barnett, D. W. Pierce, T. M. L. Wigley, C. Mears, F. J. Wentz, W. Brüggemann, N. P. Gillett, S. A. Klein, S. Solomon, P. A. Stott, and M. F. Wehner. 2009. "Incorporating Model Quality Information in Climate Change Detection and Attribution Studies," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106(35), 14778–14783. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0901736106. (Reference link)

Contact: Anjuli Bamzai, SC-23.1, (301) 903-0294; Renu Joseph, SC-23.1, 301-903-9237
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Earth and Environmental Systems Modeling

Division: SC-33.1 Earth and Environmental Sciences Division, BER

 

BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

Jan 11, 2022
No Honor Among Copper Thieves
Findings provide a novel means to manipulate methanotrophs for a variety of environmental and in [more...]

Dec 06, 2021
New Genome Editing Tools Can Edit Within Microbial Communities
Two new technologies allow scientists to edit specific species and genes within complex laborato [more...]

Oct 27, 2021
Fungal Recyclers: Fungi Reuse Fire-Altered Organic Matter
Degrading pyrogenic (fire-affected) organic matter is an important ecosystem function of fungi i [more...]

Oct 19, 2021
Microbes Offer a Glimpse into the Future of Climate Change
Scientists identify key features in microbes that predict how warming affects carbon dioxide emi [more...]

Aug 25, 2021
Assessing the Production Cost and Carbon Footprint of a Promising Aviation Biofuel
Biomass-derived DMCO has the potential to serve as a low-carbon, high-performance jet fuel blend [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)