Although scientists have gained significant insight into how the Earth's climate system works, the nature of scientific inquiry tells us that there will never be 100% confidence in future climate projections for a variety of reasons. As you and your students assess the value of climate models at predicting future climate and related climate change impacts, it is helpful to let students know the factors contributing to uncertainty. These uncertainties can be broken down into two main categories: climate forcings, such as solar irradiance, greenhouses gas emissions and aerosols, which are primary drivers in shifting the Earth's climate, and climate feedbacks, such as clouds, which are secondary drivers, changing in response to a forcing.
For a more detailed summary about key forcings and feedbacks that complicate climate models and future climate projections, read the NASA article Unresolved questions about Earth's climate.
Alignment to NC Essential Standards (grades 9-12)