Friendly Climate Science & Policy Models

Beth Sawin just presented our C-ROADS work in Copenhagen. The model will soon be available online and in other forms, for decision support and educational purposes. It helps people to understand the basic dynamics of the carbon cycle and climate, and to add up diverse regional proposals for emissions reductions, to see what they imply for the globe. It’s a small model, yet there are those who love it. No model can do everything, so I thought I’d point out a few other tools that are available online, fairly easy to use, and serve similar purposes.


From MNP, Netherlands. Like C-ROADS, runs interactively. The downloadable demo version is quite sophisticated, but emphasizes discovery of emissions trajectories that meet goals and constraints, rather than characterization of proposals on the table. The full research version, with sector/fuel detail and marginal abatement costs, is available on a case-by-case basis. Backed up by some excellent publications.


Ben Matthews’ Java Climate Model. Another interactive tool. Generates visually stunning output in realtime, which is remarkable given the scale and sophistication of the underlying model. Very rich; it helps to know what you’re after when you start to get into the deeper levels.


The tool used in AR4 to summarize the behavior of 19 GCMs, facilitating more rapid scenario experimentation and sensitivity analysis. Its companion SCENGEN does nice regional maps, which I haven’t really explored. MAGICC takes a few seconds to run, and while it has a GUI, detailed input and output is buried in text files, so I’m stretching the term “friendly” here.

I think these are the premier accessible tools out there, but I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few, so I’ll violate my normal editing rules and update this post as needed.

2 thoughts on “Friendly Climate Science & Policy Models”

  1. Hi,

    This is a response to your comments over at Roger Pielke’s blog. I know it’s off-topic here, but it would also be off-topic over there, so I figured here was just as good.

    “An economically efficient and libertarian approach would be to allocate property rights in the atmosphere and hold a two-sided Vickrey auction among individuals to determine the price of emissions. The outcome would look quite different from your proposal. Such a setup could probably be crafted such that those who are concerned pay a small insurance premium, which those who aren’t are liable for the outcome.”

    Some questions:

    1) How does one “allocate property rights” across the entire planet?

    2) How does one determine what “the outcome” is, and how much “those who aren’t” are liable for?

    3) Do those “are liable” also get paid for the benefits of global warming…or do they only get charged for the disbenefits?

  2. Mark –

    1) I have no idea. I suspect that many current governments would not allow their citizens to participate in direct open market actions like this.

    2) That’s also pretty tough; all the problems of making climate damage projections, except that it wouldn’t be in the future. Perhaps you could construct the whole thing as a giant bet on temperature and precip, and let people draw their own conclusions as to whether more was better, and choose sides accordingly.

    3) Sure, why not?

    I said it was economically pure (and even that was tongue in cheek); I didn’t say it was practical!



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