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A simple, coherent framework for partitioning uncertainty in climate predictions

Yip, S., Ferro, C. A. T., Stephenson, D. B. and Hawkins, E. (2011) A simple, coherent framework for partitioning uncertainty in climate predictions. Journal of Climate, 24 (17). pp. 4634-4643. ISSN 1520-0442

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To link to this article DOI: 10.1175/2011JCLI4085.1

Abstract/Summary

A simple and coherent framework for partitioning uncertainty in multi-model climate ensembles is presented. The analysis of variance (ANOVA) is used to decompose a measure of total variation additively into scenario uncertainty, model uncertainty and internal variability. This approach requires fewer assumptions than existing methods and can be easily used to quantify uncertainty related to model-scenario interaction - the contribution to model uncertainty arising from the variation across scenarios of model deviations from the ensemble mean. Uncertainty in global mean surface air temperature is quantified as a function of lead time for a subset of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 3 ensemble and results largely agree with those published by other authors: scenario uncertainty dominates beyond 2050 and internal variability remains approximately constant over the 21st century. Both elements of model uncertainty, due to scenario-independent and scenario-dependent deviations from the ensemble mean, are found to increase with time. Estimates of model deviations that arise as by-products of the framework reveal significant differences between models that could lead to a deeper understanding of the sources of uncertainty in multi-model ensembles. For example, three models are shown diverging pattern over the 21st century, while another model exhibits an unusually large variation among its scenario-dependent deviations.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences > Department of Meteorology
Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences > NCAS
ID Code:19256
Publisher:American Meteorological Society

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