Page:Lawhead columbia 0054D 12326.pdf/114

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

simple, intuitive observation about the relationship between the climate and incoming solar radiation and build up from there. As we run up against the short-comings of each candidate-model we consider, we’ll introduce some more terminology and concepts, incorporating them into increasingly more sophisticated models. By the end of Section 4.1, we will have constructed a working (if still quite basic) climate model piece by piece.

Section 4.2 will build from there (and will lay the groundwork for the next chapter). With a firm grasp on the basic model we’ve constructed in Section 4.1, we’ll survey some of the considerations that guide climatologists in their construction of more elaborate models. We’ll examine the notion of a “hierarchy of models” in climate science, and explore the connection between this hierarchy and the discussions of science and complexity theory we’ve had so far. We’ll take a look at the diverse family of models (so-called “Earth models of intermediate complexity”) that occupy the territory between the relatively simple model we’ve constructed here and the elaborate supercomputer-dependent models that we’ll consider in Chapter Five. We’ll think about what climate scientists mean when they say “intermediate complexity,” and how that concept might relate to dynamical complexity. Finally, we’ll consider some of the limitations to the scientific methodology of decomposing systems into their constituent parts for easier analysis. We’ll explore the parallels between the development of complexity-theoretic reasoning in climate science and biology, two more striking examples of sciences which have begun to turn away from the old decompositionist-centered scientific method. This critique will lay the groundwork for Chapter Five, in which we’ll examine the elaborate, holistic, complicated family of cutting-edge climate models, which seek to represent the climate as a unified complex system within a single comprehensive model.