This model produced by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory shows computer simulated changes in the Earth's surface temperature and sea-ice extent at past and future years 1919, 2002, 2061 and 2099. Results are averages from the output of nearly two dozen individual climate models.
To demonstrate how climate simulation models are used to conduct controlled numerical experiments to to study the consequences of different forcings on the global climate system.
ACTIVITY DESCRIPTION AND TEACHING MATERIALS
Explore: Climate Change Model
Computer simulated changes in the Earth's surface temperature and sea-ice extent at past and future years 1919, 2002, 2061 and 2099. Results are averages from the output of nearly two dozen individual climate models.
Climate change refers to any significant variation in the statistical distribution of the Earth's weather over periods of time ranging from decades to millions of years. One way the Earth's atmosphere maintains a life-sustaining surface temperature is by absorbing and reflecting the Sun's heat in a process of thermal infrared radiation. Research has shown that excessive concentrations of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere can impede the critical thermal infrared radiation process and contribute to climate change.It is predicted that even small shifts in the thermal infrared radiation process will impact the environment—both positively and negatively.
For example, in higher-latitude regions a milder climate may reduce the cost of snow-removal in urban communities, lessen the use of energy to heat homes, increase the population of certain species, extend the growing season of vegetation, and reduce deaths from influenza and other cold-weather health problems.Negative effects of climate change may include an increase in extreme weather events (e.g. heat waves, droughts, floods), higher sea level and coastal inundation, strained energy and water resources, poor air quality, and stressed ecosystems.
The problem of identifying human-induced climate change is typically addressed using "detection and attribution" and techniques, where climate change is viewed as a statistical "signal in noise" problem. Detection is the process of demonstrating that an observed change in climate is unlikely to be explained by background ‘climate noise’, while attribution aims at demonstrating that an observed signal is consistent with a given combination of human and natural forcings.
TEACHING NOTES / CONTEXT FOR USE
Climate simulation models are used to conduct controlled numerical experiments to comprehensively study the possible consequences of introducing different forcings (e.g. from solar variations, natural and anthropogenic particulates, greenhouse gas emissions, etc.) on the global climate system. To corroborate the model simulations of climate change that are a focus of research at LLNL and at many other institutions, it is a priority to develop innovative D&A methods that are appropriate for both global and regional scales.
- Scientists at Livermore Laboratory investigate prospective climate change using a variety of scientific methods: Devising statistical methods for the detection and attribution of climate change
- Developing new climate model capabilities important for simulating climate change (e.g. representation of fine-resolution atmospheric/oceanic circulation features, transports of chemical constituents and aerosols, etc.)
- Modeling potential mechanisms for triggering abrupt climate change such as the sudden release of methane (a powerful greenhouse gas) from thawing of high-latitude ocean clathrates or permafrost.
- Validating/diagnosing climate model simulations of current climate relative to global observational data in order to identify needed model improvements Implementing atmospheric model testbeds for detailed study of simulated physical processes (e.g. radiation, convection, cloud/precipitation formation) compared with field observations or satellite measurements
In addition, LLNL staff provide substantial infrastructural support for climate change studies:
Developing computer software for managing data, visualizing climate processes, and diagnosing climate model simulations
Supporting model intercomparison studies promoted by the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), or initiated at the request of other international bodies such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
Providing facilities for the storage and distribution of terrascale data sets from multiple coupled ocean-atmosphere simulations ( see CMIP data portal ) of modern-day climate change resulting from large transient increases in carbon dioxide
Contributing extensive analysis and documentation of climate simulations for international organizations
Assessment is at the discretion of the educator and how these climate simulations models are applied.
REFERENCES AND RESOURCES
|image||Climate Change Research at the National Center for Atmospheric Research
Conducts collaborative research in atmospheric and Earth system science and provides a broad array of tools and technologies to the scientific community.
|image||Climate Change Reserach at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory|