On the credibility of climate predictions

D. Koutsoyiannis, A. Efstratiadis, N. Mamassis, and A. Christofides, On the credibility of climate predictions, Hydrological Sciences Journal, 53 (4), 671–684, 2008.



Geographically distributed predictions of future climate, obtained through climate models, are widely used in hydrology and many other disciplines, typically without assessing their reliability. Here we compare the output of various models to temperature and precipitation observations from eight stations with long (over 100 years) records from around the globe. The results show that models perform poorly, even at a climatic (30-year) scale. Thus local model projections cannot be credible, whereas a common argument that models can perform better at larger spatial scales is unsupported.

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  • [doc_id=850] Assessment of the reliability of climate predictions based on comparisons with historical time series (predecessor presentation)
  • [doc_id=978] A comparison of local and aggregated climate model outputs with observed data (follow up study)


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  1. Koutsoyiannis et al 2008: On the credibility of climate predictions (Climate Audit by Steve McIntyre) Reaction by first author * * * Additional reactions: 2 * 3 * 4 * 5 * 6 * more
  2. On the credibility of climate predictions by Koutsoyiannis et al. 2008 (Climate Science by Roger Pielke Sr. 1)
  3. Comments on a New Report on Climate Change in Colorado… (Climate Science by Roger Pielke Sr. 2)
  4. New Paper On Dynamic Downscaling Of Climate Models By Rockel Et. Al. Published (Climate Science by Roger Pielke Sr. 3)
  5. Hypothesis testing and long range memory (Real Climate by Gavin A. Schmidt) Reaction by 1st author; * * * Additional reaction
  6. Koutsoyiannis vs RealClimate.ORG (The Reference Frame by Luboš Motl) Reaction by 1rst author
  7. Modellen en vroegere werkelijkheid: een test (Klimaat by Marcel Severijnen 1)
  8. Nog eens: Modellen en vroegere werkelijkheid (Klimaat by Marcel Severijnen 2)
  9. Far from model predictions. As for the CSIRO’s… (Andrew Bolt Blog 1)
  10. Dud studies behind Rudd’s freakish claims (Andrew Bolt Blog 2)
  11. Rudd’s dud study (Andrew Bolt Blog 3)
  12. November snows all over the CSIRO (Andrew Bolt Blog 4)
  13. New paper demonstrates lack of credibility for climate model predictions (Jennifer Marohasy Blog 1)
  14. Ten of the Best Climate Research Papers (Nine Peer-Reviewed): A Note from Cohenite (Jennifer Marohasy Blog 2)
  15. Ten Worst Man-Made Disasters (Jennifer Marohasy Blog 3)
  16. Climate models struggling for credibility (Al Fin)
  17. Climate models fuzz (European Tribune)
  18. If it wasn't so serious then it'd be funny (Kerplunk - Common sense from Down Under)
  19. Laying the boot into climate models (The Tizona Group)
  20. More model mania (Planet Gore)
  21. New research on the credibility of climate predictions (SciForums)
  22. New paper demonstrates lack of credibility for climate model predictions 2 (Blogotariat)
  23. New study: climate models fail again (MSNBC Boards 1)
  24. Global Climate Models Fail (Again) (MSNBC Boards 2)
  25. On the credibility of climate predictions (Chronos)
  26. Sane skepticism, part 2 (Helicity)
  27. Science. On the credibility of climate predictions (Greenhouse Bullcrap)
  28. Testing global warming models (Assorted Meanderings)
  29. Climate cuttings 21 (Bishop Hill blog)
  30. Models, Climate Change and Credibility... (21st Century Schizoid Man)
  31. Two valuable perspectives on global warming (Fabius Maximus)
  32. Unreliability of climate models? (Climate Change)
  33. Crumbling Consensus: Global Climate Models Fail (Stubborn Facts)
  34. The Australian government's climate castle is built on sand (Greenie Watch)
  35. Koutsoyiannis et al 2008 (Detached Ideas)
  36. Credibility of Climate Predictions Paper (TWO community)
  37. "Climate consensus" continues to unravel (Solomonia)
  38. Climate models have no predictive value (Acadie 1755)
  39. Global Warming Summary series, Part 5: The Earth’s Greenhouse Gas – CO2 and IPCC Climate Modeling (Global Warming Science)
  40. Reducing Vulnerability to Climate-Sensitive Risks is the Best Insurance Policy (Cato Unbound)
  41. Global Warming News of the Week (No Oil for Pacifists)
  42. A few more cooling blasts at hot air balloons (Clothcap2 : My Telegraph)
  43. IPCC-Klimamodell unbrauchbar (jetzt Sueddeutsche)
  44. Uups II: IPCC-Klimamodelle fantasieren (Die Achse des Guten)
  45. Griechische Unsicherheiten (Climate Review)
  46. El fracaso de los modelos (Valdeperrillos)
  47. Klimamodeller er usikre (Debattcentralen -
  48. Studie: Klimatmodellernas trovärdighet låg (Klimatsvammel)
  49. Credibilidad de las predicciones climáticas (FAEC Mitos y Fraudes)

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Our works referenced by this work:

1. D. Koutsoyiannis, The Hurst phenomenon and fractional Gaussian noise made easy, Hydrological Sciences Journal, 47 (4), 573–595, doi:10.1080/02626660209492961, 2002.
2. D. Koutsoyiannis, Climate change, the Hurst phenomenon, and hydrological statistics, Hydrological Sciences Journal, 48 (1), 3–24, doi:10.1623/hysj., 2003.
3. D. Koutsoyiannis, Uncertainty, entropy, scaling and hydrological stochastics, 2, Time dependence of hydrological processes and time scaling, Hydrological Sciences Journal, 50 (3), 405–426, doi:10.1623/hysj.50.3.405.65028, 2005.
4. D. Koutsoyiannis, A toy model of climatic variability with scaling behaviour, Journal of Hydrology, 322, 25–48, 2006.
5. D. Koutsoyiannis, Nonstationarity versus scaling in hydrology, Journal of Hydrology, 324, 239–254, 2006.
6. D. Koutsoyiannis, A. Efstratiadis, and K. Georgakakos, Uncertainty assessment of future hydroclimatic predictions: A comparison of probabilistic and scenario-based approaches, Journal of Hydrometeorology, 8 (3), 261–281, doi:10.1175/JHM576.1, 2007.
7. D. Koutsoyiannis, and A. Montanari, Statistical analysis of hydroclimatic time series: Uncertainty and insights, Water Resources Research, 43 (5), W05429, doi:10.1029/2006WR005592, 2007.
8. D. Koutsoyiannis, and T.A. Cohn, The Hurst phenomenon and climate (solicited), European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2008, Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 10, Vienna, 11804, doi:10.13140/RG.2.2.13303.01447, European Geosciences Union, 2008.
9. D. Koutsoyiannis, N. Mamassis, A. Christofides, A. Efstratiadis, and S.M. Papalexiou, Assessment of the reliability of climate predictions based on comparisons with historical time series, European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2008, Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 10, Vienna, 09074, doi:10.13140/RG.2.2.16658.45768, European Geosciences Union, 2008.

Our works that reference this work:

1. D. Koutsoyiannis, C. Makropoulos, A. Langousis, S. Baki, A. Efstratiadis, A. Christofides, G. Karavokiros, and N. Mamassis, Climate, hydrology, energy, water: recognizing uncertainty and seeking sustainability, Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 13, 247–257, doi:10.5194/hess-13-247-2009, 2009.
2. D. Koutsoyiannis, A. Montanari, H. F. Lins, and T.A. Cohn, Climate, hydrology and freshwater: towards an interactive incorporation of hydrological experience into climate research—DISCUSSION of “The implications of projected climate change for freshwater resources and their management”, Hydrological Sciences Journal, 54 (2), 394–405, doi:10.1623/hysj.54.2.394, 2009.
3. G. G. Anagnostopoulos, D. Koutsoyiannis, A. Christofides, A. Efstratiadis, and N. Mamassis, A comparison of local and aggregated climate model outputs with observed data, Hydrological Sciences Journal, 55 (7), 1094–1110, doi:10.1080/02626667.2010.513518, 2010.
4. D. Koutsoyiannis, and A. Langousis, Precipitation, Treatise on Water Science, edited by P. Wilderer and S. Uhlenbrook, 2, 27–78, Academic Press, Oxford, 2011.
5. D. Koutsoyiannis, Hurst-Kolmogorov dynamics and uncertainty, Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 47 (3), 481–495, doi:10.1111/j.1752-1688.2011.00543.x, 2011.
6. H. Tyralis, and D. Koutsoyiannis, A Bayesian statistical model for deriving the predictive distribution of hydroclimatic variables, Climate Dynamics, 42 (11-12), 2867–2883, doi:10.1007/s00382-013-1804-y, 2014.
7. D. Koutsoyiannis, Reconciling hydrology with engineering, Hydrology Research, 45 (1), 2–22, doi:10.2166/nh.2013.092, 2014.
8. Y. Markonis, A. N. Angelakis, J. Christy, and D. Koutsoyiannis, Climatic variability and the evolution of water technologies in Crete, Hellas, Water History, 8 (2), 137–157, doi:10.1007/s12685-016-0159-9, 2016.
9. Y. Markonis, S. C. Batelis, Y. Dimakos, E. C. Moschou, and D. Koutsoyiannis, Temporal and spatial variability of rainfall over Greece, Theoretical and Applied Climatology, doi:10.1007/s00704-016-1878-7, 2016.

Works that cite this document: View on Google Scholar, ResearchGate or ResearchGate (additional)

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70. Kiem, A. S., and E. K. Austin, Drought and the future of rural communities: Opportunities and challenges for climate change adaptation in regional Victoria, Australia, Global Environmental Change, 23(5), 1307–1316, doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2013.06.003, 2013.
71. #Tomlinson, E., B. Kappel, G. Muhlestein, D. Hultstrand and T. Parzybok, Probable Maximum Precipitation Study for Arizona, Arizona Department of Water Resources, Arizona, USA, 2013.
72. #Kappel, B., G. Muhlestein, E. Tomlinson, D. Hultstrand and M. Johnson, Calculating Arizona basin-specific PMP using the PMP evaluation tool, Association of State Dam Safety Officials Annual Conference 2013, Dam Safety 2013, 2, 904-969, 2013.
73. Jayakody, P., P. B. Parajuli, T. P. Cathcart, Impacts of climate variability on water quality with best management practices in subtropical climate of USA, Hydrological Processes, 28(23), 5776–5790, 2014.
74. Kundzewicz, Z.W., S. Kanae, S. I. Seneviratne, J. Handmer, N. Nicholls, P. Peduzzi, R. Mechler, L. M. Bouweri, N. Arnell, K. Mach, R. Muir-Wood, G. R. Brakenridge, W. Kron, G. Benito, Y. Honda, K. Takahashi, and B. Sherstyukov, Flood risk and climate change: global and regional perspectives, Hydrological Sciences Journal, 59(1), 1–28, 2014.
75. Honti, M., A. Scheidegger, and C. Stamm, The importance of hydrological uncertainty assessment methods in climate change impact studies, Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 18, 3301-3317, 10.5194/hess-18-3301-2014, 2014.
76. Gilioli, G., S. Pasquali, S. Parisi and S. Winter, Modelling the potential distribution of Bemisia tabaci in Europe considering climate change scenario, Pest Management Science, 70(1), 1611–1623, 10.1002/ps.3734, 2014.
77. #Jiménez Cisneros, B.E., T. Oki, N.W. Arnell, G. Benito, J.G. Cogley, P. Döll, T. Jiang, and S.S. Mwakalila, Freshwater resources. In: Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part A: Global and Sectoral Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Field, C.B., V.R. Barros, D.J. Dokken, K.J. Mach, M.D. Mastrandrea, T.E. Bilir, M. Chatterjee, K.L. Ebi, Y.O. Estrada, R.C. Genova, B. Girma, E.S. Kissel, A.N. Levy, S. MacCracken, P.R. Mastrandrea, and L.L. White (eds.)], Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, pp. 229-269, 2014.
78. #Kiem, A. S., Climate variability and change, ch. 2 in Climate Change and Water Resources, 31-67, 2014.
79. Kiem, A. S., D. C. Verdon-Kidd, and E. K. Austin, Bridging the gap between end user needs and science capability: decision making under uncertainty, Climate Research, 61(1), 57-74, 2014.
80. Stonevičius, E., G. Valiuškevičius, E. Rimkus and J. Kažys, Climate induced changes of Lithuanian rivers runoff in 1960–2009, Water Resources, 41 (5), 592-603, 2014.
81. #McKitrick, R., Climate Policy Implications of the Hiatus in Global Warming, Fraser Institute, 2014.
82. Yao, Y., S. Zhao, Y. Zhang, K. Jia and M. Liu, Spatial and decadal variations in potential evapotranspiration of China based on reanalysis datasets during 1982–2010, Atmosphere, 5(4), 737-754, 2014.
83. #Verdon-Kidd, D. C., A. S. Kiem, and E. K. Austin, 7 Bridging the gap between researchers and decision-makers, ch. 7 in Applied Studies in Climate Adaptation (ed. by J. P. Palutikof, S. L. Boulter, J. Barnett, and D. Rissik) Applied Studies in Climate Adaptation, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK, 51-59, 2014.
84. Nova, J., Government monopoly in science and the role of independent scientists, Energy and Environment, 25(6-7), 1219–1224, 2014.
85. Bravo, J. M., W. Collischonn, A. R. Paz, D. Allasia, and F. Domecq, Impact of projected climate change on hydrologic regime of the Upper Paraguay River basin, Climatic Change, 127(1), 27–41, 2014.
86. #Ranzi, R., and M. Tomirotti, Long term statistics of river flow regime: climatic or anthropogenic changes?, Proceedings of 3rd IAHR Europe Congress, Porto, 2014.
87. Kundzewicz, Z., and D. Gerten, Grand challenges related to assessment of climate change impacts on freshwater resources, Journal of Hydrologic Engineering, 20 (1), 10.1061/(ASCE)HE.1943-5584.0001012, A4014011, 2015.
88. Stefanova, A., V. Krysanova, C. Hesse, and A. I. Lillebø, Climate change impact assessment on water inflow to a coastal lagoon: the Ria de Aveiro watershed, Portugal, Hydrological Sciences Journal, 60(5), 929-948, 2015.
89. Vallebona, C., E. Pellegrino, P. Frumento, and E. Bonari, Temporal trends in extreme rainfall intensity and erosivity in the Mediterranean region: a case study in southern Tuscany, Italy, Climatic Change, 128(1-2), 139-151, 2015.
90. Gil-Alana, L.A., Linear and segmented trends in sea surface temperature data, Journal of Applied Statistics, 42(7), 1531-1546, doi:10.1080/02664763.2014.1001328, 2015.
91. Wi, S., Y.C.E. Yang, S. Steinschneider, A. Khalil, and C.M. Brown, Calibration approaches for distributed hydrologic models in poorly gaged basins: implication for streamflow projections under climate change, Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 19, 857-876, doi:10.5194/hess-19-857-2015, 2015.
92. Hesse, C., A. Stefanova, and V. Krysanova, Comparison of water flows in four European lagoon catchments under a set of future climate scenarios, Water, 7(2), 716-746, doi:10.3390/w7020716, 2015.
93. Yu, Z., P. Jiang, M. R. Gautam, Y. Zhang, and K. Acharya, Changes of seasonal storm properties in California and Nevada from an ensemble of climate projections, Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 120(7), 2676-2688, doi:10.1002/2014JD022414, 2015.
94. Mortazavi-Naeini, M., G. Kuczera, A. S. Kiem, L. Cui, B. Henley, B. Berghout, and E. Turner, Robust optimization to secure urban bulk water supply against extreme drought and uncertain climate change, Environmental Modelling and Software, 69, 437-451, doi:10.1016/j.envsoft.2015.02.021, 2015.
95. Verdon-Kidd, D. C. and A. S. Kiem, Non–stationarity in annual maxima rainfall across Australia – implications for Intensity–Frequency–Duration (IFD) relationships, Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 19, 4735-4746, doi:10.5194/hessd-12-3449-2015, 2015.
96. Legates, D. R., W. Soon, W. M. Briggs and C. Monckton of Brenchley, Climate consensus and ‘misinformation’: a rejoinder to agnotology, scientific consensus, and the teaching and learning of climate change, Science and Education, 24, 299-318, 10.1007/s11191-013-9647-9, 2015.
97. Deb, P., A. S. Kiem, M. S. Babel, S. T. Chu, and B. Chakma, Evaluation of climate change impacts and adaptation strategies for maize cultivation in the Himalayan foothills of India, Journal of Water and Climate Change, 6(3) 596-614, doi:10.2166/wcc.2015.070, 2015.
98. Frank, P., Negligence, non-science, and consensus climatology, Energy and Environment, 26(3), 391-415, doi:10.1260/0958-305X.26.3.391, 2015.
99. Oyekale, A. S., Factors explaining farm households’ access to and utilization of extreme climate forecasts in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), Environmental Economics, 6(1), 91-103, 2015.
100. Munshi, J., A robust test for OLS trends in daily temperature data, Social Science Research Network, doi:10.2139/ssrn.2631298, 2015.
101. #McKitrick, R. Energy policy and environmental stewardship: risk management not risk avoidance, Greer-Heard Point-Counterpoint Forum, 2015.
102. Kiem, A. S., E. K. Austin, and D. C. Verdon-Kidd, Water resource management in a variable and changing climate: hypothetical case study to explore decision making under uncertainty, Journal of Water and Climate Change, 7(2), 263-279, doi:10.2166/wcc.2015.040, 2016.
103. Jiang, P., Z. Yu, M. R. Gautam, F. Yuan, and K. Acharya, Changes of storm properties in the United States: Observations and multimodel ensemble projections, Global and Planetary Change, 142, 41–52, doi:10.1016/j.gloplacha.2016.05.001, 2016.
104. Becker, M., M. Karpytchev, M. Marcos, S. Jevrejeva, and S. Lennartz-Sassinek, Do climate models reproduce complexity of observed sea level changes?, Geophysical Research Letters, 43(10), 5176-5184, doi:10.1002/2016GL068971, 2016.
105. Kianfar, B., S. Fatichi, A. Paschalis, M. Maurer, and P. Molnar, Climate change and uncertainty in high-resolution rainfall extremes, Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions, doi:10.5194/hess-2016-536, 2016.
106. #Fekete, B. M., G. Pisacane, and D. Wisser, Crystal balls into the future: are global circulation and water balance models ready?, Proc. IAHS, 374, 41-51, doi:10.5194/piahs-374-41-2016, 2016.
107. #Ranzi, R., P. Caronna, and M. Tomirotti, Impact of climatic and land use changes on river flows in the Southern Alps, Sustainable Water Resources Planning and Management Under Climate Change, 61-83, Springer Singapore, doi:10.1007/978-981-10-2051-3_3, 2017.
108. Manage, N. P., N. Lockart, G. Willgoose, G. Kuczera, A. S. Kiem, K. Chowdhury, L. Zhang, and C. Twomey, Statistical testing of dynamically downscaled rainfall data for the Upper Hunter region, New South Wales, Australia, Journal of Southern Hemisphere Earth Systems Science, 66, 203–227, 2016.
109. Stakhiv, E. Z., W. Werick, and R. W. Brumbaugh, Evolution of drought management policies and practices in the United States, Water Policy, 18(S2), 122-152, doi:10.2166/wp.2016.017, 2016.
110. Camici, S., L. Brocca, and T. Moramarco, Accuracy versus variability of climate projections for flood assessment in central Italy, Climatic Change, doi:10.1007/s10584-016-1876-x, 2017.

Tagged under: Course bibliography: Hydrometeorology, Climate stochastics, Works discussed in weblogs