There’s little doubt these days over whether the planet is heating up. Temperature measurements clearly show the trend and in recent years, computer models of the Earth’s climate have been able to reproduce these increases pretty accurately when carbon dioxide is injected into their virtual atmospheres.
Where climate models fall down, however, is in predicting how the climate will change on a regional scale. The Netherlands, for example, is represented by a single grid square in global climate models. So that makes it hard to work out how global patterns may influence the climate in the Netherlands.
Today, a group of meterologists from the Royal Netherlands Meterological Institute (KNMI), the Dutch weather forecasting outfit, examine warming trends in western Europe and say the current models of regional climate change have vastly underestimated the rate of change. Yep, that’s underestimated.
What the team has done is identify many of the reasons why regional models fall down. They say the models fail to account for stronger wind circulation patterns in winter and spring, misrepresent the North Atlantic Current that brings warm water from the equator to western Europe and underestimate the amount of sunshine in some places. There are also important differnces between observed and modelled effects of aerosols and snow at various places and times too.
That’s important to know because it should be possible to fix the regional climate models to take account of these effects. At least, in theory.In the meantime, Western Europe is warming much faster than regional climate models have suggested. The message from KNMI is that you live in the Netherlands (or anywhere else in Western Europe), stock up on ice cubes and suncream.
Ref: arxiv.org/abs/0806.0715: Western Europe is Warming Much Faster Than Expected