Perspective | Published:

Communication of the role of natural variability in future North American climate

Nature Climate Change volume 2, pages 775779 (2012) | Download Citation

  • An Erratum to this article was published on 27 November 2012

This article has been updated

Abstract

As climate models improve, decision-makers' expectations for accurate climate predictions are growing. Natural climate variability, however, poses inherent limits to climate predictability and the related goal of adaptation guidance in many places, as illustrated here for North America. Other locations with low natural variability show a more predictable future in which anthropogenic forcing can be more readily identified, even on small scales. We call for a more focused dialogue between scientists, policymakers and the public to improve communication and avoid raising expectations for accurate regional predictions everywhere.

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Change history

  • 14 November 2012

    In the version of this Perspective originally published, the last label on the x axis of Fig. 3b should have read '2050'. This error has now been corrected in the HTML and PDF versions.

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Acknowledgements

The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Model simulations and analyses were conducted by C.D. and A.S.P.; C.D., R.K. and S.S. contributed equally to the writing.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. National Center for Atmospheric Research, 1850 Table Mesa Drive, Boulder, Colorado 80305, USA

    • Clara Deser
    •  & Adam S. Phillips
  2. ETH Zürich, Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, CHN N 12.1, Universitätstrasse 16, CH-8092 Zürich, Switzerland

    • Reto Knutti
  3. Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA

    • Susan Solomon

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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Clara Deser.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate1562

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