EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

A proposal for engaging amateur scientists in climate forecasting

David A. Stainforth1,2
David A. Stainforth
  • 1London School of Economics, Grantham Research Institute, London, United Kingdom of Great Britain – England, Scotland, Wales (
  • 2Department of Physics, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK

Twenty years ago in 2003 the project was launched. It gave members of the public the opportunity to engage in climate modelling and climate prediction by downloading a comprehensive climate model and running it on their PCs. Participants contributed their results to a large perturbed-parameter ensemble and thus supported an exploration of uncertainty in climate projections. What the project did not do was give the participants much opportunity for participating in the experimental design or data analysis.


Nowadays the questions regarding uncertainty in model-based predictions remain. Unlike twenty years ago, however,  there are many more individuals in our societies who have skills in computing, statistics, physics, geophysics etc. and who have an interest in research but are not part of the research community and don’t want a career in academia. Here I will present a potential project to engage such individuals in exploring and quantifying uncertainty in real-world extrapolatory forecasts of the climate system - that’s to say of climate change. Key to this would be the use of a range of simple, low-dimensional stochastic models founded on the Hasselmann model. Participants would be asked to both code and run ensembles of various versions of the model to explore physical science uncertainties in feedback processes, ocean heat uptake, the scale and type of the stochastic forcing, and even the structure of the model. They would participate in a collection of standardised experiments - common across multiple individuals - to allow for verification of results but they would also be encouraged to run their own experiments and to propose extensions to the main project in collaborative teams.


Such a project would provide a route to enable skilled and interested individuals throughout society to participate in climate research and also to contribute to the wider communication and understanding of the climate prediction and uncertainty quantification problems. This proposal is for a citizen science project that takes scientific engagement to a new level - a project that enables those in society who want to contribute as active researchers to do so but on a voluntary basis without the pressures and demands of a typical academic career.

How to cite: Stainforth, D. A.: A proposal for engaging amateur scientists in climate forecasting, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-14431,, 2023.