Jon Lawhead originally shared this post:
I will offer a brief overview to some of the central concepts and terminology of climate science. We’ll introduce these concepts by way of a concrete examination of the practice of model building in climate science. Sticking with the generally dialectical style we’ve been using so far, we’ll begin with a simple, intuitive observation about the relationship between the climate and incoming solar radiation and build up from there. As we run up against the short-comings of each candidate-model we consider, we’ll introduce some more terminology and concepts, incorporating them into increasingly more sophisticated models. By the end of Section 4.1, we will have constructed a working (if still quite basic) climate model piece by piece.
Next, we’ll survey some of the considerations that guide climatologists in their construction of more elaborate models. We’ll examine the notion of a “hierarchy of models” in climate science, and explore the connection between this hierarchy and the discussions of science and complexity theory we’ve had so far. We’ll take a look at the diverse family of models (so-called “Earth models of intermediate complexity”) that occupy the territory between the relatively simple model we’ve constructed here and the elaborate supercomputer-dependent models that we’ll consider in Chapter Five. We’ll think about what climate scientists mean when they say “intermediate complexity,” and how that concept might relate to dynamical complexity.
Finally, we’ll consider some of the limitations to the scientific methodology of decomposing systems into their constituent parts for easier analysis. This critique will lay the groundwork for Chapter Five, in which we’ll examine the elaborate, holistic, complicated family of cutting-edge climate models, which seek to represent the climate as a unified complex system within a single comprehensive model.
I will offer a brief overview to some of the central concepts and terminology of climate science. We’ll introduce these concepts by way of a concrete examination of the practice of model building in c…