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The epistemology of climate change

English title The epistemology of climate change
Applicant Lam Vincent
Number 170460
Funding scheme SNSF Professorships
Research institution Institut für Philosophie Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Philosophy
Start/End 01.01.2019 - 31.12.2022
Approved amount 1'402'534.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Philosophy
Climatology. Atmospherical Chemistry, Aeronomy

Keywords (19)

Uncertainty; Explanation; Swiss context; Simulations; Emergence; Climate decision-making; Climate science; Structural model error; Expert judgement; Epistemology; Confirmation; Climate modelling; Paradigm shift; Epistemic limitations; Climate policy-making; Scientific understanding; Causation; Climate change; Philosophy of science

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Le changement climatique constitue l'un des plus grands défis de notre temps, où les sciences---en particulier les sciences climatiques---jouent un rôle crucial. Dans ce contexte, la philosophie des sciences offre des outils pertinents pour cerner ce rôle et mieux aborder le défi climatique.
Lay summary
S'il existe un large consensus scientifique au sujet des projections climatiques globales, la fiabilité des modélisations régionales à haute résolution et à long terme est plus faible. D'une certaine manière, la modélisation climatique, ainsi que les processus de prise de décisions qui en dépendent, font face à une tension entre le développement de modèles de plus en plus complexes, et des contraintes épistémiques fondamentales liées aux projections à haute résolution et à long terme. Les quatre parties de ce projet considèrent cette tension avec les outils de la philosophie des sciences.

La première partie fournit un panorama détaillé des principales questions épistémiques soulevées dans la littérature scientifique et du degré de consensus scientifique sur ces questions. La seconde partie a pour but d'évaluer dans quelle mesure certaines caractéristiques épistémiques structurelles des modèles climatiques nécessitent un changement de paradigme dans l'épistémologie des sciences climatiques. La troisième partie élabore un cadre conceptuel pour appréhender les mécanismes explicatifs à l'oeuvre en modélisation climatique. La quatrième partie considère la modélisation climatique régionale en Suisse comme cas d'étude.

Ce projet vise ainsi à clarifier les fondements méthodologiques et épistémologiques des sciences et de la modélisation climatiques sous l'angle de la philosophie des sciences, dans le but de fournir les outils les plus pertinents pour faire face au défi climatique.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 15.02.2018

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
The Kac Ring or the Art of Making Idealisations
Jebeile Julie (2020), The Kac Ring or the Art of Making Idealisations, in Foundations of Physics, 50(10), 1152-1170.
Multi-model ensembles in climate science: Mathematical structures and expert judgements
Jebeile Julie, Crucifix Michel (2020), Multi-model ensembles in climate science: Mathematical structures and expert judgements, in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A, 83, 44-52.
Understanding climate change with statistical downscaling and machine learning
Jebeile Julie, Lam Vincent, Räz Tim (2020), Understanding climate change with statistical downscaling and machine learning, in Synthese, 1.
Values and Objectivity in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Jebeile Julie (2020), Values and Objectivity in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in Social Epistemology, 34(5), 453-468.
Eric Winsberg, Philosophy and Climate Science . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2018), 270 pp., $29.99 (paper).
Lam Vincent (2020), Eric Winsberg, Philosophy and Climate Science . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2018), 270 pp., $29.99 (paper)., in Philosophy of Science, 87(2), 376-379.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Dr Lionel Moret, Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss, CH-1211 Geneva Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Dr Claus Beisbart, Institute of Philosophy, University of Bern, CH-3000 Bern Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Dr Vincent Ardourel, IHPST, CNRS, Paris France (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Prof. Dr Michel Crucifix, Earth & Life Institute, Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve Belgium (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Jun.-Prof. Dr Dania Achermann, Bergische Universität Wuppertal, 42119 Wuppertal Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Dr Thomas Stocker, Climate and Environmental Physics, University of Bern, CH-3012 Bern Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Dr Roman Frigg, London School of Economics and Political Science, London WC2A 2AE, UK Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Dr Reto Knutti, Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zürich, CH-8092 Zürich Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR), Faculty of Sciences, University of Bern, CH-3012 Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
SPHERE seminar Individual talk Pluralisme des modèles et incertitudes dans les sciences du climat 16.12.2020 University Paris Diderot, France Jebeile Julie;
Colloquium 'Doing Science in the Artificial Age' Talk given at a conference Understanding with Climate Models and the Impact of Machine Learning 14.12.2020 IHPST, CNRS, Paris, France Jebeile Julie;
Seminar 'Epistémologie sociale et formelle' Individual talk Les valeurs dans les sciences du climat 25.11.2020 Sorbonne University, France Jebeile Julie;
Workshop on Climate Information for Adaptation Talk given at a conference From Regional Climate Models to Actionable Impact Information 15.10.2020 University of Leeds, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Jebeile Julie;
krino. Philosophische Gesellschaft Bern Individual talk Wissenschaftsphilosophie und Klimawandel 15.10.2020 University of Bern, Switzerland Lam Vincent;
Workshop ‘Data Science in Climate and Climate Impact Research’ Talk given at a conference The Impact of Statistics and Machine Learning on Understanding in Climate Modeling 21.08.2020 ETHZ, Switzerland Jebeile Julie; Lam Vincent;
Seminar 'Sciences, Normes, Démocratie' Individual talk Quantification des incertitudes climatiques : perspectives épistémologiques 26.02.2020 Sorbonne University, France Jebeile Julie;
Workshop 'Designer pour l’aérospatiale aujourd’hui' Individual talk Complexité des objets techniques et interdisciplinarité des acteur·rice·s : sources d’opacité épistémique dans les missions spatiales 07.02.2020 MSH Paris-Saclay, France Jebeile Julie;
Ecole doctorale 'Ethique et intégrité scientifique en Sciences de la Terre, de l’Environnement et Physique de l’Univers' Individual talk Valeurs et objectivités en science : Le cas des sciences du climat 31.01.2020 Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, France Jebeile Julie;
Seminar ‘Epistemology of Science’ Individual talk On the epistemic importance of qualitative features in climate modelling 20.11.2019 University of Geneva, Switzerland Lam Vincent;
8es Rencontres Doctorales Internationales de Philosophie des Sciences Talk given at a conference Regional climate change projections: epistemological issues 05.11.2019 Univerasity of Lausanne, Switzerland Lam Vincent;
IV POND Conference: Science and Objectivity Talk given at a conference Values and objectivity in the IPCC 26.09.2019 University of Barcelona, Spain Jebeile Julie;
The 7th Biennial Conference of the European Philosophy of Science Association Talk given at a conference Structural (in)stability and climate modelling 13.09.2019 University of Geneva, Switzerland Lam Vincent;
Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research Plenary Meeting Talk given at a conference Philosophy of science perspectives on the climate challenge 06.09.2019 University of Bern, Switzerland Lam Vincent;
3rd Quantum Engineering Day Talk given at a conference The entanglement of physics and philosophy 06.06.2019 University Grenobles Alpes, France Lam Vincent;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Big data, machine learning, climate modelling & understanding 15.11.2019 University of Bern, Switzerland

Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
krino. Philosophische Gesellschaft Bern Talk 15.01.2021 University of Bern, Switzerland Lam Vincent;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: print media, online media Klimaforscher im Fokus UniPress German-speaking Switzerland 2020
Talks/events/exhibitions Wissenschaftsphilosophie und Klimawandel German-speaking Switzerland 2020

Abstract

This research project aims to carefully investigate and clarify the epistemic foundations of climate science using the tools of philosophy of science in order to provide the best possible support for addressing the climate challenge, with particular attention to local, regional climate modelling and decision making at the national level. The project is divided in four interconnected parts. The first part provides a detailed landscape of the epistemic issues related to climate science, with a focus on the degree of expert consensus for each issue. The second part aims to evaluate to what extent certain structural epistemic features of climate models (such as structural instability) may require some sort of paradigm shift in the epistemology of climate science. The third part aims to develop a clear conceptual framework for understanding the explanatory schemes and the relationships between the various (local and global) levels at work in climate science. The fourth part takes regional climate modelling in the Swiss context as a concrete study case.
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