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Keywords:

  • climate model assessment;
  • climate model predictions;
  • Karl Popper;
  • Severe testing

Abstract

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Acknowledgment
  4. References
  5. Supporting Information

[1] According to Austro-British philosopher Karl Popper, a system of theoretical claims is scientific only if it is methodologically falsifiable, i.e., only if systematic attempts to falsify or severely test the system are being carried out [Popper, 2005, pp. 20, 62]. He holds that a test of a theoretical system is severe if and only if it is a test of the applicability of the system to a case in which the system's failure is likely in light of background knowledge, i.e., in light of scientific assumptions other than those of the system being tested [Popper, 2002, p. 150]. Popper counts the 1919 tests of general relativity's then unlikely predictions of the deflection of light in the Sun's gravitational field as severe. An implication of Popper's above condition for being a scientific theoretical system is the injunction to assess theoretical systems in light of how well they have withstood severe testing. Applying this injunction to assessing the quality of climate model predictions (CMPs), including climate model projections, would involve assigning a quality to each CMP as a function of how well it has withstood severe tests allowed by its implications for past, present, and nearfuture climate or, alternatively, as a function of how well the models that generated the CMP have withstood severe tests of their suitability for generating the CMP.


Acknowledgment

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Acknowledgment
  4. References
  5. Supporting Information

I thank Henk Dijkstra, Jos de Laat, and this article's four referees for their helpful comments.

References

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Acknowledgment
  4. References
  5. Supporting Information
  • Frame, D. J., N. E.Faull, M. M.Joshi, and M. R.Allen (2007), Probabilistic climate forecasts and inductive problems, Philos. Trans. R. Soc. A., 365(1857),19711992, doi:10.1098/rsta.2007.2069.
  • Hegerl, G. C., T. J.Crowley, W. T.Hyde, and D. J.Frame (2006), Climate sensitivity constrained by temperature reconstructions over the past seven centuries,Nature, 440, 10291032, doi:10.1038/nature04679.
  • Popper, K. R. (2002), Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge, Routledge,London.
  • Popper, K. R. (2005), The Logic of Scientific Discovery, Routledge,London.
  • Randall, D. A., et al. (2007), Climate models and their evaluation, in Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis—Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, edited byS.Solomon et al., chap. 8, pp. 589662,Cambridge Univ. Press, New York.
  • Solomon, S., et al. (2007), Technical summary, inClimate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis—Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, edited by S.Solomon et al., pp. 1991,Cambridge Univ. Press, New York.

Supporting Information

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Acknowledgment
  4. References
  5. Supporting Information
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2011EO230004_suppl.pdfPDF document19K2011EO230004_suppl.pdf

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