My New Toy: Global Climate Modeling on my PC

Global Climate Model output

I have a new toy. Its one of the Global Climate Models that is being used to predict the future of Earth’s climate and the effects of global warming.

Originally developed by NASA Goddard in New York its simply called “model E” Its the same GCM used to prepare the IPCC report. You can learn more about it yourself here.

By today’s computer standards, this program is rather crude, as it has a lineage that goes back almost 30 years. It was written in FORTRAN. But, despite the old school mainframe programming language, it does represent a mountain of work and knowledge.

My intent here is to learn as much as I can about it, so that I can more intelligently comment on climate change predictions. I also plan to try some baseline tests with it to see if it models true when known parameters are kept static. By doing this, I’ll be able to see if the climate system calculations are bias free for a variety of parameters.

I’ve already done my first global climate change model run, and it took almost two days for the calculations to complete from years 1958 to 2058. So it will be slow going since I don’t have a Cray supercomputer at my disposal.

I can tell you that I’ve already found one big surprise, the CO2 and solar insolation datasets inlcuded only go to 1998, but much has been made of the last 9 years of “record high” global temperature observations by global warming proponents. I am in contact with the authors to see if I can get the datasets updated.

I’ll keep you updated on what I learn.

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May 3, 2007 8:15 am

I ran across this article after following your “free carbon credits” link.
It’s a bit of a dense read (for me), but has some interesting points. In particular was the authors discussion of integrated circuit manufacturing techniques that use numerical modeling (similar to climate models) for silicon deposition. These models of closed atmoshperic systems, are then tested experimentally. The results are often incorrect, and adjustments to the experiment often introduce changes not predicted by the numerical models. As an analog for climate modeling the manufacturing of integrated circuits should lead us to question the models.
The author stated that ciruit manufactureres often scrap numeric models after experimental models show the results aren’t accurately predicted. He goes on to explain that no company would spend huge amounts of money to adjust manufaturing processes based on models since they are not definitive.
The numerical models for this industry are used to describe atmoshperic conditions with minimal components in a completely closed environment. And they are still wrong.
Makes you wonder about other predictions.

Joe Yarosevich
May 21, 2007 12:22 pm

You were at the same talk that I attended during CARDs astronomy lectures. Data with a 95% confidence level was presented that showed that the solar contribution to the global heat totals had declined from about 12% in the last IPCC report to around 7.5% in the most recent report. Why are you afraid to admit that human activities are having an effect, even if we don’t have a complete underestanding of the system?
You need to take a deep breath!

Anthony Watts
May 21, 2007 3:03 pm

Hi Joe,
You must have missed the lecture by the head of the National Solar Observatory, Dr. Giampapa.
I’m not afraid of anything, and if it comes to pass that man made CO2 is proven without a doubt to be the cause, I’ll gladly admit to beign wrong.
But the sun is the sole source of energy on this planet, and trillions of times more powerful than anything man could muster.
Besides, it may not be either, but just a bad paint job on temperature shelters. See my blog entry on that.
As a scientist, everything must be looked at. To ignore one or more possibilities, even when the “popular” politically driven science says otherwise, is just as wrong as the old denials of the Catholic Chruch on the nature of the universe, our solar system, and the place the earth holds in it.
Just because dogma is popular, doesn’t mean it is the truth.

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