Assessment of the reliability of climate predictions based on comparisons with historical time series

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.



As falsifiability is an essential element of science (Karl Popper), many have disputed the scientific basis of climatic predictions on the grounds that they are not falsifiable or verifiable at present. This critique arises from the argument that we need to wait several decades before we may know how reliable the predictions will be. However, elements of falsifiability already exist, given that many of the climatic model outputs contain time series for past periods. In particular, the models of the IPCC Third Assessment Report have projected future climate starting from 1990; thus, there is an 18-year period for which comparison of model outputs and reality is possible. In practice, the climatic model outputs are downscaled to finer spatial scales, and conclusions are drawn for the evolution of regional climates and hydrological regimes; thus, it is essential to make such comparisons on regional scales and point basis rather than on global or hemispheric scales. In this study, we have retrieved temperature and precipitation records, at least 100-year long, from a number of stations worldwide. We have also retrieved a number of climatic model outputs, extracted the time series for the grid points closest to each examined station, and produced a time series for the station location based on best linear estimation. Finally, to assess the reliability of model predictions, we have compared the historical with the model time series using several statistical indicators including long-term variability, from monthly to overyear (climatic) time scales. Based on these analyses, we discuss the usefulness of climatic model future projections (with emphasis on precipitation) from a hydrological perspective, in relationship to a long-term uncertainty framework.

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

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Errata: In slide 3 "regional projections" should read "geographically distributed projections" and the reference of figures to IPCC chapter 11 (Christensen et al., 2007) should change to Chapter 10 (Meehl et al., 2007; also in list of references in slide 20). In slide 11 "Albany, Florida" should read "Albany, Georgia" (thanks to QE in the Small Dead Animals blog who spotted them).

Our works that reference this work:

1. D. Koutsoyiannis, A. Efstratiadis, N. Mamassis, and A. Christofides, On the credibility of climate predictions, Hydrological Sciences Journal, 53 (4), 671–684, doi:10.1623/hysj.53.4.671, 2008.

Other works that reference this work (this list might be obsolete):

1. #Ekmann, J., and R.C. Dolence, Energy project risk amidst climate change regulatory uncertainty, 25th Annual International Pittsburgh Coal Conference, PCC – Proceedings, 2008.
2. #Taylor, P., Chill, a reassessment of global warming theory: does climate change mean the world is cooling, and if so what should we do about it?, Clairview Books, 404 pp., 2009.
3. #Howell, B., The Kyoto Premise and the catastrophic failure of rational, logical, and scientific thinking by essentially all scientists, Lies, Damned Lies, and Scientists: the Kyoto Premise example, Chapter A.1, 2011.
4. Bakker, A. M. R., and B. J. J. M. van den Hurk, Estimation of persistence and trends in geostrophic wind speed for the assessment of wind energy yields in Northwest Europe, Climate Dynamics, 39 (3-4), 767-782, 2012.

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