Global Warming:

Limitations of General Circulation Models and Costs of Modeling Efforts

RCED-95-164: Published: Jul 13, 1995. Publicly Released: Aug 14, 1995.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Pursuant to congressional request, GAO reviewed the accuracy of general circulation models (GCM) in forecasting global warming trends, focusing on the: (1) factors limiting the accuracy of GCM estimates of future climatic changes; and (2) federal expenditures for GCM for fiscal years (FY) 1992 through 1994.

GAO found that: (1) although GCM have improved their ability to predict future climatic changes over the last decade, their estimates are still limited by their incomplete or inaccurate representations of climate-affecting processes and by insufficient computer power; (2) scientists do not fully understand how the climate system responds to potentially important physical, chemical, and biological processes; (3) the lack of computer power requires scientists to use simplified assumptions and structures that increase the uncertainty of the models' predictions; (4) scientists are conducting research to overcome the limitations of the computer models; and (5) five federal agencies spent about $122.6 million for various global modeling projects, which represented about 3 percent of the global change research program's budget for FY 1992 through 1994.

Mar 21, 2017

Mar 20, 2017

Feb 28, 2017

Feb 22, 2017

Feb 16, 2017

Feb 15, 2017

Feb 8, 2017

Jan 23, 2017

Jan 19, 2017

Looking for more? Browse all our products here