Thursday, July 08, 2010

Weather models vs. Climate models

From Steven Goddard: Weather vs. Climate | Watts Up With That?

I recently had the opportunity to attend a meeting of some top weather modelers. Weather models differ from climate models in that they have to work and are verified every hour of every day around the planet. If a weather model is broken, it becomes obvious immediately. By contrast, climate modelers have the advantage that they will be long since retired when their predictions don’t come to pass.

Weather and climate models are at the core very similar, but climate models also consider additional parameters that vary over time, like atmospheric composition. Climate models iterate over very long time periods, and thus compound error. Weather modelers understand that 72 hours is about the limit which they can claim accuracy. Climate modelers on the other hand are happy to run simulations for decades (because they know that they will be retired and no one will remember what they said) and because it provides an excuse to sink money into really cool HPC (High Performance Computing) clusters.
2. The two most important boundary conditions (inputs) to seasonal forecasts are sea surface temperatures and soil moisture. No one has shown any skill at modeling either of those, so no surprise that The Met Office Seasonal forecasts were consistently wrong.

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