What Are Climate Models Good For?

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Date(s) - Wednesday, January 10
11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Bren School of Environmental Science & Management


Held in Room 1414.

This talk by Gavin Schmidt, an adjunct Senior Researcher at the Columbia University Earth Institute and Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, will explore how the climate is dynamic and complex, affected by processes happening at the scale of a cloud droplet to the size of the planet. Large changes in climate are recorded in ice cores, ocean mud and, over the last two centuries, instrumental records. But can we understand the large scale patterns in climate and their changes? Can we distinguish the impacts of individual drivers of change, such as volcanoes, the sun, or human activities? Moreover, can we make skillful predictions for the future beyond the 5 day weather forecast? Each of these tasks has been made possible by the use of climate models, and yet, understanding of their role is often misunderstood or distorted. He will discuss how models are not only useful, but increasingly necessary.

Gavin Schmidt is a climate scientist with over 120 publications. He has won multiple awards for science communication, including the inaugural Climate Communication Prize from AGU in 2011, and was the coauthor of “Climate Change: Picturing the Science” published by Norton in 2009. He was recently made a AAAS Fellow. His 2014 TED talk has been viewed more than a million times.