Ioan Muntean (University of Notre Dame)

Title: Plurality of Models, Optimization and Mechanisms in Climate Studies.


The Role of Feedback in the New IPCC Report In order to predict and ultimately explain Earth’s climate system, especially its sensitivity to natural and human influences in the immediate and long-term future, a considerable number of computer simulations are run on a given set of hypothetical models.1 It is virtually impossible to imagine the study of Earth’s climate system without numerical simulations: they are probably the only tools in predicting with some accuracy the future evolution of the terrestrial climate based: therefore numerical simulations are related by definition to contemporary climate models. How plausible are climate models when it comes of predicting global warming, a process that may span over several decades or centuries? Climate modelers deal with an overly complex system and with a large set of data collected from many points in space and time and with a plurality of mathematical techniques: several methods of sampling the atmosphere, several ways of calculating the dynamics of atmosphere and ocean etc. Can we trust numerical simulations when the simulated system is increasingly complex, when we are uncertain about the data collected and when no single model accepted as the best model? Climate models operate under strong uncertainty. Recent literature in philosophy of science addresses uncertainty of climate models and I will follow it partially in my paper.