Predicting Climate Change: Lessons From Reductionism, Emergence, and the Past
Article first published online: 3 JUN 2011
©2009. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.
Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union
Volume 90, Issue 13, pages 111–112, 31 March 2009
How to Cite
2009), Predicting Climate Change: Lessons From Reductionism, Emergence, and the Past, Eos Trans. AGU, 90(13), 111–112, doi:10.1029/2009EO130004., and (
- Issue published online: 3 JUN 2011
- Article first published online: 3 JUN 2011
Climate and Earth system models are the only tools used to make predictions of future climate change. Such predictions are subject to considerable uncertainties, and understanding these uncertainties has clear and important policy implications. This Forum highlights the concepts of reductionism and emergence, and past climate variability, to illuminate some of the uncertainties faced by those wishing to model the future evolution of global climate.
General circulation models (GCMs) of the atmosphere-ocean system are scientists' principal tools for providing information about future climate. GCMs consequently have considerable influence on climate change–related policy questions. Over the past decade, there have been significant attempts, mainly by statisticians and mathematicians, to explore the uncertainties in model simulations of possible futures, accompanied by growing debate about the interpretation of these simulations as aids in societal decisions. In this Forum, we discuss atmosphere-ocean GCMs in the context of reductionist and emergent approaches to scientific study.