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Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 9, issue 3 | Copyright
Earth Syst. Dynam., 9, 999-1012, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 15 Aug 2018

Research article | 15 Aug 2018

A mathematical approach to understanding emergent constraints

Femke J. M. M. Nijsse1,2 and Henk A. Dijkstra1,3 Femke J. M. M. Nijsse and Henk A. Dijkstra
  • 1Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht, Department of Physics, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 2College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Science, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK
  • 3Center for Complex Systems Science, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands

Abstract. One of the approaches to constrain uncertainty in climate models is the identification of emergent constraints. These are physically explainable empirical relationships between a particular simulated characteristic of the current climate and future climate change from an ensemble of climate models, which can be exploited using current observations. In this paper, we develop a theory to understand the appearance of such emergent constraints. Based on this theory, we also propose a classification for emergent constraints, and applications are shown for several idealized climate models.

Publications Copernicus
Short summary
State-of-the-art climate models sometimes differ in their prediction of key aspects of climate change. The technique of emergent constraints uses observations of current climate to improve those predictions, using relationships between different climate models. Our paper first classifies the different uses of the technique, and continues with proposing a mathematical justification for their use. We also highlight when the application of emergent constraints might give biased predictions.
State-of-the-art climate models sometimes differ in their prediction of key aspects of climate...