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Charlotte Werndl: Confirmation and Calibration in Climate Science

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Published on May 1, 2014

I argue that concerns about double-counting -- using the same evidence both to calibrate or tune climate models and also to confirm that the models are adequate -- deserve more careful scrutiny in climate modelling circles. It is widely held that double-counting is bad and that separate data must be used for calibration and confirmation. I show that this is not true, and that climate scientists may be confusing their targets. My analysis turns on a Bayesian/relative-likelihood approach to incremental confirmation. According to this approach, double-counting is entirely proper. I go on to discuss plausible difficulties with calibrating climate models, and I distinguish more and less ambitious notions of confirmation. Strong claims of confirmation may not, in many cases, be warranted, but it would be a mistake to regard double-counting as the culprit.

Charlotte Werndl, London School of Economics
April 14, 2014

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