Eric. J. Barron, 1986. "Mathematical Climate Models: Insights into the Relationship Between Climate and Economic Sedimentary Deposits", Paleoclimates and Economic Geology, Judith Totman Parrish, Eric J. Barron
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The climate system is complex. Consequently every approach to the climate system involves simplification, whether the goal is to predict future climate change or to relate climate to the formation and distribution of economic sedimentary deposits. One of the most natural forms of simplification is through modern analogies. Qualitative or conceptual models based on modern analogies are many times informative, but the limitation is clear. Such analogies rarely grasp the potential for changes on a dynamic earth. If we are to understand climatic change, and its potential for influencing the distribution and character of sediments, then the next step is investigations based on physical laws. These laws (e.g. first law of thermodynamics) are not complex, but the processes that they govern force the development of mathematical models. The primary task of climate modeling is to replace the complex natural system by a hierarchy of simplified ones which include all the processes and feedback mechanisms which are necessary to predict climatic change, achieving a quantitative tool for insight into the climate system.
The simplification of the climate system in mathematical models may take many forms. For example, many processes which in theory can be computed from general physical laws can often be parameterized (i.e. approximated). For instance, models must either ignore or parameterize factors which operate on a scale smaller than the model resolution, such as approximating small eddies or molecular processes by a simple diffusion law. In other cases observational data may be used to derive an empirical relationship which
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Burgeoning interest in paleoclimatology has been spurred by growing awareness of the control of paleoclimates on the formation of economic deposits. In past studies, paleoclimatic patterns were derived empirically from biogeographic patterns, and to a lesser extent, from the distributions of sedimentary paleoclimatic indicators, such as coals. The problems with this approach are numerous. In early studies, the paleoclimatic patterns appeared to make very little sense because they were reconstructed on modern continental positions. Even after the acceptance of continental drift, problems arose when the paleoclimatic indicators were poorly dated or when geologists chose paleoclimatic indicators from too long a time period, during which major paleoclimatic changes could have occurred. More recently, qualitative and quantitative models of paleoclimate have proved useful for understanding the distributions of climatically significant geologic data. These models are founded on basic principles of atmospheric and oceanic circulation as applied to global paleogeography, including reconstructed plate positions. With climate models, geologists can formulate hypotheses about the paleoclimatic patterns that might be expected during the various intervals in Earth history and test those hypotheses with the paleoclimatic indicators.