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Model spread and progress in climate modelling

Jebeile, Julie and Barberousse, Anouk (2021) Model spread and progress in climate modelling. [Preprint]

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Convergence of model projections is often considered by climate scientists to be an important objective in so far as it may indicate the robustness of the models’ core hypotheses. Consequently, the range of climate projections from a multi-model ensemble, called “model spread”, is often expected to reduce as climate research moves forward. However, the successive Assessment Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicate no reduction in model spread, whereas it is indisputable that climate science has made improvements in its modelling. In this paper, after providing a detailed explanation of the situation, we describe an epistemological setting in which a steady (and even slightly increased) model spread is not doomed to be seen as negative, and is indeed compatible with a desirable evolution of climate models taken individually. We further argue that, from the perspective of collective progress, as far as the improvement of the products of a multi-model ensemble (e.g. means) is concerned, reduction of model spread is of lower priority than model independence.

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Item Type: Preprint
Jebeile, Juliejulie.jebeile@philo.unibe.ch0000-0002-7164-5848
Keywords: climate modelling; model spread; scientific progress; robustness; model independence.
Subjects: General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
Depositing User: Dr. Julie Jebeile
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2021 04:26
Last Modified: 24 Jul 2021 21:18
Item ID: 19244
DOI or Unique Handle:
Subjects: General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
Date: 2021

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