Throughout history man has tried to predict the future. Nowadays scientists are looked to as a source of forecasts, and over recent decades computer models have become their greatest tool. But computer models are different from reality, and experiments with computer models are different from experiments on reality. So what can models tell us about the future in reality?

The material on these pages form part of the 'Confidence from uncertainty: interpreting climate predictions' exhibit that appeared at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition in July 2011 and will be run as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science on Friday 4th November 2011. Please see the attached flyer for further details.

The exhibit explores how we make and communicate predictions about the future climate, how and when we can deduce probabilities, and the role of computer models in these processes. We focus particularly on climate change, where we know that basic physics is enough to highlight the severity of the problem, but forecasting the details is one of today's grand scientific challenges. Progress requires integrating skills and understanding from disciplines as diverse as physics, mathematics, computer science, statistics, chemistry, ecology, economics, philosophy and more.

You can play the online games that form part of the exhibit and access the additional reference material, allowing you to:

  • explore the computer models (from climateprediction.net) that are used to simulate climate change.
  • discover the different types of uncertainty involved in climate science.
  • understand the different sources of knowledge that must be combined to make useful predictions about the future climate.
  • learn about making decisions in the face of uncertainty.

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