The Earth’s climate shows a great deal of natural variability as a consequence of such factors as sporadic volcanic eruptions, atmosphere-ocean variability such as El Nino, and the chaotic variability of the atmosphere. ITPA scientists are engaged in studying atmospheric data and paleo-climatic data from ice cores, as well as numerical general circulation models, to characterize and understand the nature of this variability.
Understanding natural climate variability is important for several reasons. For one, it can cause great economic losses as well as loss of human life, such as has been the case in recent hurricanes and flooding events would help in mitigating losses. Second, we will be able to identify anthropogenic effects on climate more readily if we understand natural variations in the climate record.