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The Unbearable Complexity of Climate December 28, 2009

Posted by honestclimate in Discussions.
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The Unbearable Complexity of Climate

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach
Via Watts Up With That, 27 December 2009

Figure 1. The Experimental Setup

I keep reading statements in various places about how it is indisputable “simple physics” that if we increase amount of atmospheric CO2, it will inevitably warm the planet. Here’s a typical example:

In the hyperbolic language that has infested the debate, researchers have been accused of everything from ditching the scientific method to participating in a vast conspiracy. But the basic concepts of the greenhouse effect is a matter of simple physics and chemistry, and have been part of the scientific dialog for roughly a century.

Here’s another:

The important thing is that we know how greenhouse gases affect climate. It has even been predicted hundred years ago by Arrhenius. It is simple physics.

Unfortunately, while the physics is simple, the climate is far from simple. It is one of the more complex systems that we have ever studied. The climate is a tera-watt scale planetary sized heat engine. It is driven by both terrestrial and extra-terrestrial forcings, a number of which are unknown, and many of which are poorly understood and/or difficult to measure. It is inherently chaotic and turbulent, two conditions for which we have few mathematical tools.

Read the rest here



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