New computer model promises detailed picture of worldwide climate

July 01, 2002

BOULDER--Capping two years of research, a nationwide group of over 100 scientists has created a powerful new computer model of the Earth's climate. The model surpasses previous efforts by successfully incorporating the impact of such variables as ocean currents and changes in land-surface temperatures.

Researchers will use the model, called CCSM-2 (Community Climate System Model, version 2) to probe how our climate works and to experiment with "what-if" scenarios to predict what our climate may be like in the future. The model will also look at past climate. For example, researchers plan to perform an extended, multicentury simulation of past shifts in the climate's equilibrium.

The model's increased capabilities will permit new types of studies, such as the "Flying Leap Experiment," which will track fossil fuel carbon emissions as they are dissolved in the oceans and subsequently released back into the atmosphere.

Jeffrey Kiehl, a key leader in development of the model at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, expects the CCSM-2 to play an integral role in the next climate assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the international organization that issues periodic assessments of global climate change.

Based at NCAR, the model is funded by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy.

"The model is better [than its earlier version] at simulating phenomena with worldwide climate implications, such as El Niño," says Kiehl. "The new version has higher spatial resolution in both oceans and sea ice, and the atmosphere is represented by a larger number of vertical layers."

To achieve the extensive modifications in the latest version, which was released last month, scientists applied the model to specific problems. For example, they weighed the climatic impacts of past volcanic eruptions, fluctuations in ocean salinity, changes in land vegetation, and the thickness of sea ice. The resulting model has far more data than the earlier version, allowing scientists to make more detailed climate projections.

"A coordinated community activity on this scale is rare in the climate sciences," says Kiehl. The contributors worked in groups on land, ocean, sea ice, and other components of the model toward the single, common goal of capturing the Earth's climate system. It was truly a collaborative effort."

Since 1983, NCAR scientists have been refining global climate models that are freely available to researchers worldwide. CCSM-2, which supercedes the first CCSM created in 1998, will be used to produce improved simulations of average climate and climate variability.

Richard Anthes, president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (which manages and operates NCAR) says: "The CCSM effort is a great example of the trend towards increasing collaboration among research institutions on complex and important scientific problems."
-end-
NCAR's primary sponsor is the National Science Foundation.

On the Web:

More information about CCSM can be found at http://www.ccsm.ucar.edu.

Researchers interested in working with the model's data can find it on the Web at http://www.ccsm.ucar.edu/experiments/ccsm2.0.

National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

Related Climate Change Articles from Brightsurf:

Are climate scientists being too cautious when linking extreme weather to climate change?
Climate science has focused on avoiding false alarms when linking extreme events to climate change.

Mysterious climate change
New research findings underline the crucial role that sea ice throughout the Southern Ocean played for atmospheric CO2 in times of rapid climate change in the past.

Mapping the path of climate change
Predicting a major transition, such as climate change, is extremely difficult, but the probabilistic framework developed by the authors is the first step in identifying the path between a shift in two environmental states.

Small change for climate change: Time to increase research funding to save the world
A new study shows that there is a huge disproportion in the level of funding for social science research into the greatest challenge in combating global warming -- how to get individuals and societies to overcome ingrained human habits to make the changes necessary to mitigate climate change.

Sub-national 'climate clubs' could offer key to combating climate change
'Climate clubs' offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally harmonized climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.

Review of Chinese atmospheric science research over the past 70 years: Climate and climate change
Over the past 70 years since the foundation of the People's Republic of China, Chinese scientists have made great contributions to various fields in the research of atmospheric sciences, which attracted worldwide attention.

A CERN for climate change
In a Perspective article appearing in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Tim Palmer (Oxford University), and Bjorn Stevens (Max Planck Society), critically reflect on the present state of Earth system modelling.

Fairy-wrens change breeding habits to cope with climate change
Warmer temperatures linked to climate change are having a big impact on the breeding habits of one of Australia's most recognisable bird species, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU).

Believing in climate change doesn't mean you are preparing for climate change, study finds
Notre Dame researchers found that although coastal homeowners may perceive a worsening of climate change-related hazards, these attitudes are largely unrelated to a homeowner's expectations of actual home damage.

Older forests resist change -- climate change, that is
Older forests in eastern North America are less vulnerable to climate change than younger forests, particularly for carbon storage, timber production, and biodiversity, new research finds.

Read More: Climate Change News and Climate Change Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.