More about climate models

During the past 30 years, scientists have developed complex Global Climate Models which are the mathematical representation of Earth's climate system and consist of all main processes in Earth's atmosphere, ocean, crysophere and land surface, Global climate models are used to simulate historical and project future climate change at global and regional scales.

Global Climate Models are computationally intensive mathematical models based on the integration of science equations for fluid dynamics, and physical, chemical and biological processes. These models are similar to the numerical models used to predict weather but are used to estimate long-term climate fluctuations and changes.

IPCC: Climate models and their evaluation

Scientists use climate models to investigate the impact of increased concentration of greenhouse gases and anthropogenic aerosols on the historical and future changes in Earth's temperature, rainfall, winds, sea level change and sea ice distribution. Models are used to explore a range of scenarios for the future emissions of greenhouse gases and provide input to policy development on adaptation and mitigation measures.

Any future climate projection has inherent chemical, physical, and social uncertainties. Scientists work hard to reduce these uncertainties in order to improve accuracy, but significant uncertainties and unknowns remain. Making accurate predictions about how human population and industrial and technological advancements might change are difficult.

Climate models were run using the atmospheric CO2 concentrations produced by the IPCC SRES scenarios to produce the global temperature changes and sea level rise into the future. The IPCC's scenarios vary depending on the extent of economic growth, global population, local or global change, and clean-energy technology advancements - the forces driving global greenhouse gas and aerosol emissions.

Find out more about climate models used by the IPCC here.