Climate models are continuously evolving and improving, becoming more skilful tools that provide us with an indication of what our future may look like.
Climate models have improved over time. The figure below shows the projected global temperature change from various models, since the early 1970s, and how the observations compared to the models. Although some models show higher or lower warming than observed, climate models have proved to be generally in agreement with observations. All the models show surface temperature increasing between 1970 and 2020 and not differing too far from what actually occurred. This is despite unknowns such as the future levels of greenhouse gas emissions, aerosols or volcanic eruptions.
The way the climate evolves over time is a combination of internal variability and long-term climate change. Models that perform well have a similar long-term trend and fluctuating internal variability like observations, but not to exactly match every ‘wiggle’ in the observed record.
Briefing: Climate modelling – an overview
Briefing: A closer look at climate modelling