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Published by: Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research on May 02, 2007
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Beyond probability: new methodsfor representing uncertainty inprojections of future climate
Guangtao Fu, Jim Hall and Jonathan Lawry June
Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research
Working Paper 75
 Beyond probability: newmethods for representinguncertainty in projections offuture climate
Guangtao Fu
, Jim Hall
and Jonathan Lawry
Faculty of Engineering, University of Bristol, BS8 1TR
School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, University of Newcastle upon Tyne,NE1 7RUEmails: guangtao.fu@bristol.ac.uk, jim.hall@ncl.ac.uk, j.lawry@bristol.ac.ukTyndall Centre Working Paper No. 75June 2005
Please note that Tyndall working papers are "work in progress". Whilst they are commented on byTyndall researchers, they have not been subject to a full peer review.The accuracy of this work and the conclusions reached are the responsibility of the author(s) alone and not the Tyndall Centre.
 Whilst the majority of the climate research community is now set upon the objective of generating probabilistic predictions of climate change, disconcerting reservations persist.Attempts to construct probability distributions over socio-economic scenarios are doggedlyresisted. Variation between published probability distributions of climate sensitivity attests toincomplete knowledge of the prior distributions of critical parameters in climate models. Inthis paper we address these concerns by adopting an imprecise probability approach. Theuncertainties considered in our analysis are from two sources: emissions scenarios andclimate model uncertainties. For the former, we argue that emissions scenarios based ondifferent views of social, economic and technical developments in the future that areexpressed in terms of fuzzy linguistic narratives and therefore any precise emissionstrajectory can be thought of as having a degree of membership between 0 and 1 in a givenscenario. We demonstrate how these scenarios can be propagated through a simple climatemodel, MAGICC.Imprecise probability distributions are constructed to represent climate model uncertainties interms of the published probability distributions of climate sensitivity. This is justified on thebasis that probabilistic estimates of climate sensitivity are highly contested and there is littleprospect of a unique probability distribution being collectively agreed upon in the near future.We then demonstrate how imprecise probability distributions of climate sensitivity can bepropagated through MAGICC. Emissions scenario uncertainties and imprecise probabilisticrepresentation of model uncertainties are combined to generate lower and upper cumulativeprobability distributions for Global Mean Temperature (GMT).2

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