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

BER Research Highlights

DOE Funded Scientists Take Another Look at the "Unpredictability" of Climate Sensitivity
Published: April 12, 2010
Posted: April 23, 2010

The sensitivity of climate to changes in the concentration of greenhouse gases and aerosols in the atmosphere plays a crucial role in how to adapt to or mitigate global change. In 2007, Roe and Baker claimed (Science, vol. 318, p. 629) that this sensitivity is intrinsically unpredictable and that socio-economic and political decisions need to rely on the danger posed by global warming, not on narrowing the range of uncertainties in determining climate sensitivity. DOE funded scientists Drs. Zaliapin and Ghil have now identified a simple mathematical error underpinning Roe and Baker's argument. This new approach holds promise for evaluating the distance of the current climate state from "tipping points" like catastrophic warming or catastrophic cooling.

Reference: I. Zaliapin and M. Ghil, Nonlinear Processes in Geophysics, vol. 17, pp. 113-122.

Contact: Renu Joseph, SC-23.1, (301) 903-9237
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Earth and Environmental Systems Modeling
  • Research Area: Multisector Dynamics (formerly Integrated Assessment)

Division: SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER


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