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CSS Colloquium - Wendy Parker: Measuring via computer simulation?

Info about event


Monday 4 November 2013,  at 10:15 - 12:00


1531-113 (D1), Math. Department

It is well known that computer simulation models are used to make projections of future climate change. It is less well known that some of the most-used “observational” datasets in climate science are composed entirely of simulation output. I will explain how such datasets are produced (via a practice known as data assimilation) and consider whether they are really so different from conventional observational datasets. I will argue that the differences are not as great as one might suspect: in principle, these datasets can be high-quality measurements of atmospheric properties, despite their genesis in simulation. In arguing for this conclusion, I will consider several conceptions of measurement as well as the roles of models in measurement. I will also argue, however, that data assimilation is a special case – most simulation studies do not deliver measurements of real-world systems, at least not if we adopt a reasonably demanding conception of measurement.