Notes about the Very, Very Simple Climate Model
The Big Idea
- This model main point is that the average temperature of our planet depends on the concentration of greenhouse gases, specifically CO2.
- If we reduce the amount of CO2 we release into the atmosphere but still release some CO2, the amount in the atmosphere will continue to increase and temperatures will continue to rise. Whenever CO2 emissions are greater than zero, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is growing.
- "All models are wrong, but some models are useful." - George E.P. Box
- This model is very, very simple. It knows nothing of changing wind or precipitation patterns that might accompany and in turn influence warming; it doesn't care where in the atmosphere the CO2 is; it ignores other greenhouse gases and other factors like the ocean and albedo that are critical to real climate models run on supercomputers.
- The assumptions behind this model, though rather limited, are valid. The starting values for concentration, emission rate, and temperature are right around actual values for the year 2000. The ranges for emission rate choices are in line with predictions scientists think we are likely to see in the coming century. The relationship between atmospheric CO2 concentration and temperature uses a well-established relationship; basically, temperature rises about 3° C for each doubling of CO2 concentration. So, for example, if the concentration goes from 400 ppmv to 800 ppmv, we expect to see temperature go up by 3° C.
Back to the Very, Very Simple Climate Model
Last modified September 23, 2008 by Lisa Gardiner.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
The Winter 2009 issue of The Earth Scientist
, focuses on Earth System science, including articles on student inquiry, differentiated instruction, geomorphic concepts, the rock cycle, and much more!
You might also be interested in:
Leaders from 192 nations of the world are trying to make an agreement about how to limit emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, mitigate climate change, and adapt to changing environmental conditions....more
Climate in your place on the globe is called regional climate. It is the average weather pattern in a place over more than thirty years, including the variations in seasons. To describe the regional climate...more
Less than 1% of the gases in Earth's atmosphere are called greenhouse gases. Even though they are not very abundant, these greenhouse gases have a major effect. Carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapor (H2O),...more
Television weather forecasts in the space age routinely feature satellite views of cloud cover. Cameras and other instruments on spacecraft provide many types of valuable data about Earth's atmosphere...more
Predicting how our climate will change in the next century or beyond requires tools for assessing how planet responds to change. Global climate models, which are run on some of the world's fastest supercomputers,...more
The world's surface air temperature increased an average of 0.6° Celsius (1.1°F) during the last century according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This may not sound like very...more
A factor that has an affect on climate is called a “forcing.” Some forcings, like volcanic eruptions and changes in the amount of solar energy, are natural. Others, like the addition of greenhouse gases...more