Climate models Are quantitative representations of the earth, its atmosphere, and the ways in which they interact to influence the climate. Models range from the comparatively simple to the extremely complex and their range, complexity, and predictive power have increased significantly in the 21st century as computational power has increased. The ability of scientists to create sophisticated climate models is of several magnitudes of order beyond what was possible even a few years ago.
Scientists use mathematical formulae, combined with the modeling ability of computers and available data sources, to create an understanding of how climate and weather effects work in different parts of the atmosphere. The purpose of the models is not just to understand atmospheric interactions, however, but to predict how they will work in the future. Predicting the weather will be of great benefit in helping people prepare for adverse phenomena such as hurricanes and typhoons, as well as the longer-term effects of drought or floods.
Further, as evidence has begun to accumulate that increased release of carbon dioxide and other gases is having a significant effect on the warming of the atmosphere, climate models have acquired the additional role of predicting the future of the world's climate and the effect of constant warming of the atmosphere.
This has led to some controversy because there are powerful economic and political incentives for some to try to demonstrate that atmospheric warming, and hence, global climate change, is not a long-term, persistent phenomenon or, if it is, that it is the result of human actions. Climate scientists have found themselves, their motives, and their methodologies questioned, much more fiercely than before and not every scientist has been comfortable with this development.
Academic discourse and the scientific method require knowledge to be accumulated in a systematic method subject to peer review, which means that most scientists are, quite properly, hesitant about giving simple, unequivocal answers to questions that require 'yes' or 'no' answers. The entire academic process is not transparent to outsiders and it is difficult to refute criticism.
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