Just Released! Order “Waking Up to Climate Change” by George Ropes, and receive 25% Discount. Learn More

Close this search box.
Close this search box.

HOME          CATEGORIES          OUR TAKE

OUR TAKE: Heat Projections Higher in Recent Climate Models

Global climate models have been used by climate scientists since the 1970s. They have been refined over the years as more data have accumulated and computers have become faster and more powerful. Yet, even the relatively simple models from the 1970s have proved to be quite accurate at predicting future climate. Most have predicted a 3° Celsius (5.4° Fahrenheit) rise in global temperature by 2100 under “business-as-usual” greenhouse gas emissions conditions. Yet over the past year, the predictions of many of the climate models are “running hot,” predicting roughly a 5° Celsius (9° Fahrenheit) rise by the end of the century. The scientists who develop and run the models are baffled; they are not sure why their predictions are spiking.[1]

One possible reason is a recently improved module to measure the effects on global temperature of clouds and aerosols in the atmosphere. The question the modelers are scrambling to answer is whether the new module is wrong, overweighting cloud impact on temperature, or if it is accurate, which could mean that previous models understated that impact, an unlikely outcome given the general accuracy of past models.

Tipping Points Confuse Social and Earth Science

The predicted temperature spike may be unrelated to the refined cloud module. Some other sensitivity or combination of sensitivities may be responsible for the jump. Scientists have identified almost a dozen “tipping points,” any one of which, if passed, would have cascading impacts on other parts of the hugely complex climate system. The observed anomalous spikes in the latest climate models could be telling us that one or more of those tipping points has been reached, with the anticipated calamitous implications for our climate future.Bad news for the human race and indeed all life on Earth if that is the case.


[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-02-03/climate-models-are-running-red-hot-and-scientists-don-t-know-why, “Climate Models Are Running Red Hot, and Scientists Don’t Know Why,” Eric Roston, Bloomberg, February 3, 2020.

image: https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-releases-detailed-global-climate-change-projections

Comment on this article

ClimateYou moderates comments to facilitate an informed, substantive, civil conversation. Abusive, profane, self-promotional, misleading, incoherent or off-topic comments will be rejected. Moderators are staffed during regular business hours (New York time) and can only accept comments written in English.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.


More Posts Like This


How Climate Change is Changing My Home City

As a person living in a coastal city, more specifically New York City, my area of living is a prime target for climate change occurrences. From rising sea levels and temperatures to structures being damaged or completely destroyed, a lot will change and has changed in my home,


Climate Change and the Industries of the World

It’s no surprise that when the climate of an area changes, it impacts most, if not all of their industries and way of life of countries. Some of these industries include tourism, agriculture, fishery, and infrastructure, which all dictate the economy and life quality of the residents in


Cloud Computing: Driving Environmental Sustainability in the Digital Age

Sustainable technology, known as Green IT, is reshaping the way we approach technology in business and industry. It emphasizes developing and using technology without harming the environment. Cloud computing is a prime example of sustainable technology. It allows companies to store data on external servers which reduces costs and infrastructure