Adjusting to policy expectations in climate change modeling : an interdiciplinary study of flux adjustments in coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation models
Author(s)Shackley, Simon.; Risbey, James; Stone, Peter H.; Wynne, Brian
This paper surveys and interprets the attitudes of scientists to the use of flux adjustments in climate projections with coupled Atmosphere Ocean General Circulation Models. The survey is based largely on the responses of 19 climate modellers to several questions and a discussion document circulated in 1995. We interpret the responses in terms of the following factors: the implicit assumptions which scientists hold about how the environmental policy process deals with scientific uncertainty over human-related global warming; the different scientific styles that exist in climate research; and the influence of organisations, institutions, and policy upon research agendas. We find evidence that scientists' perceptions of the policy process do play a role in shaping their scientific practices. In particular, many of our respondents expressed a preference for keeping discussion of the issue of flux adjustments within the climate modeling community, apparently fearing that climate contrarians would exploit the issue in the public domain. While this may be true, we point to the risk that such an approach may backfire. We also identify assumptions and cultural commitments lying at a deeper level which play at least as important a role as perceptions of the policy process in shaping scientific practices. This leads us to identify two groups of scientists, 'pragmatists' and 'purists,' who have different implicit standards for model adequacy, and correspondingly are or are not willing to use flux adjustments.
Includes bibliographical references.Abstract in HTML and technical report in HTML and PDF available on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change website (http://mit.edu/globalchange/www/)
MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change
Report no. 48