Uncertainty in Climate Modeling and its Epistemic, Methodological, and Ethical Implications

Dr. Corey Dethier (postdoctoral project, ongoing)

Climate scientists employ climate models both for predicting the future and understanding the past. As these models are heavily idealized, however, there’s substantial uncertainty about how accurate we should expect these climate models to be. In this project, I examine how climate scientists approach the uncertainty that arises due to the use of idealized climate models and the implications – epistemic, methodological, and ethical – of that uncertainty. More precisely, I argue that the use of climate models engenders what epistemologists term “higher-order uncertainty” and that the presence of such both explains the use of ensembles of climate models and puts constraints on how climate scientists should understand and communicate their results.