By Rob Mitchum

The Earth’s climate is changing more dramatically than at any other point in recorded history. With no historical precedents to draw from, policy-makers have increasingly turned to computer models to help them strategize for an uncertain climate future. While these climate models have shown early success, scientists are constantly working to improve their accuracy, extend their predictions farther into the future and connect them across sectors to models of the economy, energy and agriculture.

Achieving these goals means getting under the hood of these models to better understand how they work – and how to make them better. At the third annual all-hands meeting of the Center for Robust Decision-Making on Climate and Energy Policy (RDCEP), held in early October in Chicago, computer scientists, economists, statisticians and geophysicists dug into the programming code and mathematical formulas that are the moving parts inside these complex models.

RDCEP’s mission is to create tools to help policy makers make informed climate-related decisions in light of the deep uncertainty that is inherent to modeling the future. Now in its fourth year, the center is actively rolling out those tools for academics, policy-makers and the general public to use.

Some tools provide the glue that connects models from different disciplines. The Climate Emulator, presented at the meeting by University of Chicago geophysicist Liz Moyer and statistician Michael Stein, simplifies the complex outputs of state-of-the-art climate models for easier import into economic models. That same process also makes the emulator a useful online tool for public use, allowing people to work with “home versions” of the climate models used by experts…

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Areas of Focus: Climate Change
Climate Change
Climate change is an urgent global challenge. EPIC research is helping to assess its impacts, quantify its costs, and identify an efficient set of policies to reduce emissions and adapt...
Climate Science
Climate Science
EPIC’s interdisciplinary team of researchers is contributing to a cross-cutting body of knowledge on the scientific causes of climate change and its social consequences.