Gavin Schmidt - What are climate models good for?

Event type: 
21 August 2019
2.00 - 3.00pm

Climate Change Research Centre, Seminar Room, Mathews Building 4th floor, UNSW, Sydney

Dr. Gavin Schmidt
Goddard Institute for Space Studies, NASA, US
Climate Change Research Centre

Observations show clear changes in many aspects of the Earth’s climate - in temperatures, rainfall, sea level, sea ice and glaciers. But to understand why the climate is changing and what that portends for the future we have to use our understanding of the climate system, often encapsulated in global climate models. The climate system is however tremendously complex with relevant processes at both microscopic and global scales, and climate models, despite 40 years of work are still imperfect and incomplete. They do however get many things right and in this talk I’ll discuss how we assess model skill, what we learn from the remaining uncertainties and what this all implies for the future.

Short biography: Gavin Schmidt is the Director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) at NASA and a Principal Investigator for the GISS ModelE Earth System Model. Gavin is interested in understanding past, present and future climate and the impacts of multiple drivers of climate change, including solar irradiance, atmospheric chemistry, aerosols, and greenhouse gases. Gavin appears frequently in the media commenting on climate and climate change issues and is a co-founder of the “Real Climate” blog, one of the most influential blogs in climate outreach and research. Gavin has also received several awards including the Inaugural Climate Communications Prize by the American Geophysical Union and the 2007 Nobel Peace prize by the work with the IPCC.