Study Shows Climate Models Can’t Predict Rain or Drought

By Published on April 8, 2016

A new study reveals scientists found climate models are over-predicting the amount of rain and drought that could be caused by global warming — giving people another reason to be skeptical of climate model predictions.

The study, published in Nature Wednesday, analyzed rainfall data over the last 1,200 years in the Northern Hemisphere and found that there had been more dramatic flooding or drought weather extremes in earlier, cooler centuries before humans could have caused global warming.

“It might be more difficult than often assumed to project into the future,” Dr. Fredrik Ljungqvist, the study’s lead author of Stockholm University, told AFP.

The scientist’s reconstruction of climate models “does not support the tendency in simulations of the 20th century for wet regions to get wetter and dry regions to get drier in a warmer climate” — making it the latest nail in the coffin of the hypothesis that global warming will cause enormous floods and droughts.

Instead, the study found that “moisture regimes observed in instrumental data across the Mediterranean, western USA and China have operated consistently over the past 12 centuries,” despite average temperature changes.

The new research is important, because the United Nations’ climate science panel claims that dry areas will become even drier and wet ones wetter as the global temperature rises in response to greenhouse gas emissions.

The new research “certainly adds fuel to the fiery debate” on the link between warming and rainfall extremes, Dr. Matthew Kirby, a scientist at California State University’s Department of Geological Sciences, said according to Nature. “Do their results invalidate current predictive models? Certainly not. But they do highlight a big challenge for climate modelers, and present major research opportunities both for modelers and climate scientists.”

The UN’s claim has been called into question by another Nature study that found increasing global temperatures meant the air has more capacity to hold moisture from the oceans, leading to more rains in arid regions of the world, even in the Earth’s driest regions, such as the Sahara desert.

“We found a strong relationship between global warming and an increase in rainfall, particularly in areas outside of the tropics,” Dr. Markus Donat, the second study’s author, told Phys.org.

 

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