Where are the Yanks?

Published September 1, 2000

They call it the U.S. National Assessment, yet there isn’t an American model to be found. Where are NASA and Jim Hansen? Where’s the National Center for Atmospheric Research? Where are all the billions of tax dollars we’ve thrown into climate modeling and related research?

It is pretty obvious from the first pages of the USNA that the maps the CCC and Hadley Centre produced aren’t much different from the maps the Journal of Climate published describing NCAR model output. So why does the USNA use only foreign models to assess U.S. climate?

No one’s talking. On the record, anyway. But one highly placed source (who will likely never speak to us again if we disclose his name) did report that American modelers told USNA they just didn’t have the resources to produce what USNA wanted: a regional depiction of U.S. climate. In other words, those researchers recognized that existing global models simply are not specific enough to predict the behavior of twentieth-century U.S. climate worth a lick—and they didn’t want to be the target of the criticism sure to follow the USNA’s release.