Climate Change Predictive Model

Climate models work like a laboratory in a computer. They allow scientists to study how different factors interact to influence a region’s climate. Say that a scientist wants to know what would happen if the temperature of the oceans suddenly changed. We don’t have a spare Earth that we can use for experiments, so the model lets us test ideas that would be impossible or dangerous to actually do. In a climate model, a scientist can change the temperature of the oceans safely inside a computer. The model then figures how lots of other things would change because of the warming oceans.

At the end of the calculation, the model might show, for example, that a slightly warmer ocean could cause big changes in Earth’s climate. It could also show how this small change could have long-term effects. The model could help scientists understand how a change in ocean temperature affects Earth’s climate 10 years from now, 100 years from now, or 1,000 years from now.

How Do We Know That Climate Models Are Accurate?

NASA’s Earth-observing satellites collect a lot of information about our planet and its atmosphere. Scientists gather information about past climates from very old trees and ice drilled from deep within glaciers. Using all of this information, scientists can understand how changes in our planet or atmosphere have affected climate over time. For example, say that we know that ocean temperatures have warmed at some point in the past—and we also know what affect that change had on Earth’s climate. We can use that information to check if a model’s predictions of similar changes in the future are accurate