We stand in front of the limits of predictability
Posted by pwl on February 28, 2009
“[Henk] Tennekes, more than any other individual, challenged the models that climate scientists were constructing, saying models could never replicate the complexity of the real world. What was needed was a different approach to science, one that recognized inherent limits in such scientific tools and aimed less to regulate the environment.”
In a landmark speech to the American Meteorological Society in 1986, [Tennekes] argued that meteorology was poised to be the first of the post- Newtonian sciences because it was “at odds with the mainstream of the scientific enterprise of the last 300 years. One goal of science is to control nature, but we know we cannot control the weather. The goal of science is prediction, but we stand in front of the limits of predictability.”
“Meteorology, in other words, would be the first scientific discipline to hit this brick wall. As Tennekes argued, modern theory “unequivocally predicts that no amount of improvement in the quality of the observation network or in the power of computers will improve the average useful forecast range by more than a few days.
Climate modelling is the basis of forecasts of climate change. Yet this modelling, Tennekes believes, has little utility, and “there is no chance at all that the physical sciences can produce a universally accepted scientific basis for policy measures concerning climate change.” Moreover, he states: “There exists no sound theoretical framework for climate predictability studies.”
” – The Limits of Predictability