Building an empirical model of global carbon flux



Predicting the behavior of a complex system, like the one that explains the exchange of carbon between the Earth's surface and the atmosphere, by trying to produce theoretical formulations of every environmental process is a daunting challenge. Likewise, the alternative approach—forsaking numerical abstraction in favor of predictions based explicitly on observations—has been hindered by a lack of both observational data and the computational power needed to make sense of it. Expanding detector networks, advancements in processing power, and the development of new computational techniques, however, are opening the door to the development of empirical models of complex systems.