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Researchers say climate models understate risk, ignore human factors

The scientists want models to better account for population growth, migration patterns, shifting resource use, land-use changes, emissions and pollution.

By Brooks Hays
Researchers say climate models understate risk, ignore human factors
A group of climate scientists at the University of Maryland argue current climate change models understate the risks faced by the human-planet system. Photo by NOAA/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 8 (UPI) -- In a new scientific paper, researchers argue current climate models focus too heavily on atmospheric inputs and and outputs and ignore human-related factors. As a result, scientists say many climate models understate the risk to the planet's ability to support human life.

The paper was published in the journal National Science Review.

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Environmental, climate, and economic policies at the national and international levels are shaped by climate models. It's imperative, the paper's authors warn, that these models better reflect the disruptions of the Earth-human system.

The scientists want models to better account for population growth, migration patterns, shifting resource use, land-use changes, emissions and pollution.

"Current models are likely to miss critical feedbacks in the combined Earth-Human system," Eugenia Kalnay, one of the study's co-authors and a professor of atmospheric and oceanic science at the University of Maryland said in a news release.

"It would be like trying to predict El Nino with a sophisticated atmospheric model but with the sea surface temperatures taken from external, independent projections by, for example, the United Nations," Kalnay continued. "Without including the real feedbacks, predictions for coupled systems cannot work the model can get away from reality very quickly."

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