For decades, scientists have been able to predict future Earth conditions, like rainfall and temperature, with impressive accuracy using computer programs called climate models. These models are helpful at telling us what might happen to our weather depending on how much we curb greenhouse gases emissions now, and they can be used to study how much human-driven climate change plays a role in big events such as Hurricane Harvey or last year’s Pacific Northwest heatwave, compared with our planet’s natural processes.
We hear about climate models all the time, but how many of us know how they actually work? In this episode, we peel back the curtain, discussing where these models came from, what they can do amazingly well, and their current limitations. And our guests talk about what it's like for them, personally, when their work is doubted, minimized, or politicized. After all, climate scientists find themselves in the hot seat a lot more often than other scientists. Today's guests are experts not only in the science itself, but also expert at staying cool under pressure, communicating their science with the public, and laughing off the negativity.
Jennifer Holm, a research scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Climate and Ecosystem Science Division. Her work focuses on modeling terrestrial ecosystems, with an emphasis on tropical forests.
Michael Wehner, a senior scientist in the Applied Math and Computational Research Division. A veteran in the field, Michael used to write climate models, and now uses them to study how human-caused climate change impacts extreme weather events like hurricanes.