Professor Steve Easterbrook on the accuracy of climate-change computer models

October 20, 2023 by Chris Sasaki - A&S News

“I came to U of T in 1999,” says Steve Easterbrook. “My partner and I had just started a family, we became very busy with young kids, and it was around this time that I started thinking about their future and how my research might affect them.”

Easterbrook is director of the School of the Environment and a professor in the Department of Computer Science in the Faculty of Arts & Science. Throughout his career, he has been interested in the role computer science and software engineering have to play in understanding and combatting global climate change.

The research questions he eventually decided to tackle were a natural progression from the work he’d done in a previous job as lead scientist at NASA’s software verification research lab where he and his team studied flight software for the Space Shuttle and International Space Station.

Easterbrook decided to investigate how climate models — computer programs or simulations — that describe our warming atmosphere work and how well they work. In other words, how do we know we can trust the predictions about climate change they make?

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