The ability of climate modelers to integrate the increasing number of variables into their models and add more sophisticated techniques for modeling the interactions between them relies to a considerable extent on the greatly enhanced number of data observations and their accuracy. Generations of weather balloons and their successors, for example, have been instrumental in the enormous increase in volume and scope of observations that are now available. Expansion of satellite coverage of the world, often driven by military objectives, has also increased the amount of data.
However, few data observations are of the depth required for sophisticated new models. To supplement actual observations, therefore, it has been necessary (and very helpful) to consider the evidence from past records, such as ice cores and tree-ring growth, which provide a considerable amount of useful information dating, in some cases, back many thousands of years. In other cases, proxy variables are used, especially for those variables which it is not possible or practical to measure directly, no matter how advanced the measuring technology may be.
The use of proxy variables and the comparatively narrow temporal range of some crucial observations means there is some equivocation in results and this, again, means it is prudent to take a broad view of results and simulations from models used around the world, which use a variety of initial conditions and weightings. Many scientific institutions make their data freely available for just this purpose.
SEE ALSO: Atmospheric Component of Models; Atmospheric General Circulation Models; Climatic Data, Atmospheric Observations; Climatic Data, Proxy Records; Computer Models; Historical Development of Climate Models; Ocean Component of Models.
BIBLIOGRApHY. Climatic Research Unit, www.cru.uea.ac.uk (cited November 2007); Stephen Griffies, Fundamentals of Ocean Climate Models (Princeton U. Press, 2004); Hadley Centre, www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/hadleycentre (cited November 2007); Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Data Distribution Centre, ipcc-ddc.cru.uea.ac.uk (cited November 2007); Kendal McGuffie and Ann Henderson-Sellers, A Climate Modelling Primer, 3rd ed. (Wiley, 2005); Gordon E. Moore, "Cramming More Components onto Integrated Circuits," Electronics (v.38/8, 1965); Warren M. Washington and Claire L. Parkinson, Introduction to Three-Dimensional Climate Modeling, 2nd rev. ed. (University Science Books, 2005).
John Walsh Shinawatra University
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