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Bayesian weighting of climate models based on climate sensitivity

by Elias C Massoud, Huikyo Lee, Adam Terando, Michael Wehner
Publication Type
Journal Name
Communications Earth & Environment
Publication Date
Page Numbers
1 to 8

Using climate model ensembles containing members that exhibit very high climate sensitivities to increasing CO2 concentrations can result in biased projections. Various methods have been proposed to ameliorate this ‘hot model’ problem, such as model emulators or model culling. Here, we utilize Bayesian Model Averaging as a framework to address this problem without resorting to outright rejection of models from the ensemble. Taking advantage of multiple lines of evidence used to construct the best estimate of the earth’s climate sensitivity, the Bayesian Model Averaging framework produces an unbiased posterior probability distribution of model weights. The updated multi-model ensemble projects end-of-century global mean surface temperature increases of 2 oC for a low emissions scenario (SSP1-2.6) and 5 oC for a high emissions scenario (SSP5-8.5). These estimates are lower than those produced using a simple multi-model mean for the CMIP6 ensemble. The results are also similar to results from a model culling approach, but retain some weight on low-probability models, allowing for consideration of the possibility that the true value could lie at the extremes of the assessed distribution. Our results showcase Bayesian Model Averaging as a path forward to project future climate change that is commensurate with the available scientific evidence.