There is a range (or hierarchy) of climate models with very different levels of complexity and, correspondingly, different strengths and weaknesses. This hierarchy allows scientists to use computer resources efficiently and run models with the complexity needed for the experiment of interest.
The simplest are the Energy Balance Models (EBMs), which model the climate in terms of the global energy budget. EBMs are normally zero-dimensional or one-dimensional models that ignore many features of the Earth system (such as atmosphere/ocean dynamics). These models simply consider the energy entering and leaving the planet. This simple approach is sufficient for the reasonable simulation of many large-scale climate features, like the seasonal cycle in temperature. The simplicity of
EBMs gives them a number of advantages; they are very fast, which means many experiments can be run and long time periods can be considered. In addition, they neglect many of the features that can complicate analysis, thus they allow the study of the more fundamental factors affecting climate.
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