Resources for Climate Modelers

woman in forestThis is a platform for helping people understand and apply Alaska climate projections in their work. Here, you can ask questions about how this information is produced and used in climate change research and adaptation planning. Stephanie McAfee (left) is a climate scientist who can help you make sense of climate data.

We welcome your questions about climate modeling, uses of climate data, advantages and disadvantages among datasets, data requests, best practices, and other data related topics. This is not the place for basic questions about climate change, or for disputing that it is happening.

Common climate modeling questions

What do CMIP3/CMIP5 and AR4/AR5 mean?

Short answer: These are major global climate modeling efforts. We obtain data output from these models, and then add value to by downscaling them for our region.

Long answer: The Program for Climate Model Diagnosis & Intercomparison works to develop improved methods and tools for the diagnosis and intercomparison of general circulation models (GCMs) that simulate the global climate.

One of their projects, the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP), is an ongoing effort that informs the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Reports (AR).

CMIP3 informed the IPCC AR4 and CMIP5 informed the IPCC AR5 (they skipped using the name “CMIP4” in order to align the CMIP and AR numerical values). So, CMIP3/AR4 and CMIP5/AR5 are paired up in relation to the data provided and which report it informs.

And yes, there’s a CMIP6/AR6 in the works, too.

What projection is the most likely to occur?
Which are the best historical data to use?
Which are the best downscaled data to use?
Why don’t your data exactly match the station record from X?
Can you get a Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) forecast out of your climate projections?
Why don’t the 2000-2010 projections from the climate models match what actually happened?

Have a question that's not addressed here?

Please do not use this link to ask basic questions about climate change—there are plenty of reliable sources on the Internet—or to dispute that it is happening.