October 17, 2012
Credit: Credit: NASA/JPL
Computer models have accurately forecast conditions on Mars and are valid predictors of climate change on Earth, U.S. and French astronomers said on Tuesday.
These computer programs predicted Martian glaciers and other features on Earth’s planetary neighbor, scientists found.
“Some public figures imply that modeling of global climate change on Earth is ‘junk science,’ but if climate models can explain features observed on other planets, then the models must have at least some validity,” lead researcher William Hartmann of the Planetary Science Institute said in a statement.
The team’s findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s planetary sciences division in Reno, Nevada.
Some climate change skeptics, notably U.S. Senator James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, dismiss human-spurred global warming as a hoax. Others accept that Earth’s climate is changing, but discount a human cause. Still others, including Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, accept the idea of climate change, but maintain the science is inconclusive.
The science of climate change prediction is dependent in part on complex computer models that take into account multiple factors that influence Earth’s climate, including the level of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Many such models have forecast the globally averaged temperature will rise by 3.6 degrees F (2 degrees C) this century if greenhouse emissions continue at current levels.
Recent global temperature increases support these predictions. On Monday, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that September 2012 was tied for the warmest month on Earth in the modern record, and was the 331st consecutive month above the 20th century average.