A Breakthrough in Climate Modeling Shows Past Temperatures and Future Changes

climate model simulation image

Image via Jamison Daniel/National Center for Computational Sciences

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have come up with a modeling method that shows what future warming scenarios may look like, based on highly accurate modeling of temperature shifts and resulting global changes that have happened in the past. Their new model may give the most accurate view into the future of our planet available. Science Daily reports:

"We want to know what will happen in the future, especially if the climate will change abruptly," says Zhengyu Liu, a UW-Madison professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences and director of the Center for Climatic Research in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. "The problem is, you don't know if your model is right for this kind of change. The important thing is validating your model."

To do so, Liu and his colleagues run their mode back in time and match the results of the climate simulation with the physical evidence of past climate.

Simulating atmospheric and oceanic conditions starting 21,000 years ago, the scientists were able to see their model accurately reflect what actually happened and is recorded in fossil and geologic records. In other words, the model works. And that means we could have a strong tool for understanding what to expect as our current global temperature climbs.

"Being able to successfully simulate thousands of years of past climate for the first time with a comprehensive climate model is a major scientific achievement," notes Bette Otto-Bliesner, an atmospheric scientist and climate modeler at National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and co-author of the Science report. "This is an important step toward better understanding how the world's climate could change abruptly over the coming centuries with increasing melting of the ice caps."

It will be another 4 million processor hours and intricate collaboration with a range of specialists in different disciplines before we'll be able to see what the model predicts for 200 years from now. But when we do, will what we see finally shake us into greener living from top to bottom?

Read the full article at the National Center for Computational Sciences

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