ICAS External Seminar

Presented by Dr Phil Goodwin, University of Southampton

Projecting future climate change using observations

Host: Piers Forster


Future projections of surface warming are usually made using highly complex Earth system models. However, the historic simulations from these highly complex models often show discrepancy to observed climate change, in terms of historic surface warming, historic ocean heat content and historic carbon fluxes. A key goal is therefore to develop future climate projections from models whose historic simulations do agree with observations up to the present day. One widely adopted approach is to continue to increase the complexity of the climate models, but this has not so far achieved consistency between simulations and observations. This talk explores an alternative approach where the confidence in the future climate projections relies not on the complexity of the climate model, but instead on the model fit to observations. Using this observation-constrained approach, the required reduction in carbon emissions to avoid dangerous levels of climate change is assessed (i.e. with warming kept below 1.5 or 2 °C), and Earth’s climate sensitivity is evaluated.


Dr. Phil Goodwin is a Lecturer in Oceanography and Climate at the University of Southampton’s School of Oceanography and Earth Science. His research within Earth system science focuses on the link between climate and the carbon cycle. Prior to his current position, he held a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at Cambridge, after completing a postdoc at UEA and doctoral study at the University of Liverpool. He is the lead scientist on the CO2 Modeller climate app (www.CO2Modeller.info), which runs a touchscreen climate model on smartphones and tablets.

The seminar will be followed by cake and coffee in the School foyer.