Credibility via Coupling
Institutions and Infrastructures in Climate Model Intercomparisons
This study investigates Model Intercomparison Projects (MIPs) as one example of a coordinated approach to establishing scientific credibility. MIPs originated within climate science as a method to evaluate and compare disparate climate models, but MIPs or MIP-like projects are now spreading to many scientific fields. Within climate science, MIPs have advanced knowledge of: a) the climate phenomena being modeled, and b) the building of climate models themselves. MIPs thus build scientific confidence in the climate modeling enterprise writ large, reducing questions of the credibility or reproducibility of any single model. This paper will discuss how MIPs organize people, models, and data through institution and infrastructure coupling (IIC). IIC involves establishing mechanisms and technologies for collecting, distributing, and comparing data and models (infrastructural work), alongside corresponding governance structures, rules of participation, and collaboration mechanisms that enable partners around the world to work together effectively (institutional work). Coupling these efforts involves developing formal and informal ways to standardize data and metadata, create common vocabularies, provide uniform tools and methods for evaluating resulting data, and build community around shared research topics.
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