A new era for climate change science

In 2007, the Inter­gov­ern­mental Panel on Cli­mate Change released its fourth assess­ment report based on a new group of cli­mate models, the value of which earned the IPCC the Nobel Peace Prize. The new models—collectively referred to as CMIP3—revealed infor­ma­tion about cli­mate change that sealed the deal on a number of lin­gering ques­tions: Is global tem­per­a­ture increasing? Yes. Is it caused by humans? Almost cer­tainly. But one major question—perhaps the most impor­tant one of all—remained. What should we do about it?

To answer that ques­tion, stake­holders would need more locally rel­e­vant infor­ma­tion on much shorter time scales. So when the next gen­er­a­tion of cli­mate models was released in 2012, sci­en­tists had high hopes. These models included more phys­ical, chem­ical, and bio­log­ical processes, often con­sid­ered at a much finer-​​grain than the pre­vious models. Surely CMIP5, as the new ensemble of models is called, would pro­vide cred­ible pro­jec­tions at the scales rel­e­vant to stakeholders.

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