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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. A National Strategy for Advancing Climate Modeling. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13430.
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A NATIONAL STRATEGY FOR

ADVANCING

CLIMATE MODELING

Committee on a National Strategy for Advancing Climate Modeling

Board on Atmospheric Studies and Climate

Division on Earth and Life Studies

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS

Washington, D.C.

www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. A National Strategy for Advancing Climate Modeling. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13430.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS  •  500 Fifth Street, NW  •  Washington, DC 20001

NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

This study was supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under contract DG133R-08-CO-0062 Task Order #12, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under contract NNX08AB07G, the National Science Foundation under Grant No. ATM-0809051, the Department of Energy under contract DE-SC0005113, and the U.S. intelligence community. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsoring agency or any of its subagencies.

International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-25977-4
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-25977-0
Library of Congress Control Number: 2912954954

Additional copies of this report are available for sale from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Keck 360, Washington, DC 20001; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313; http://www.nap.edu/.

Copyright 2012 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. A National Strategy for Advancing Climate Modeling. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13430.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering.

The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine.

The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.

www.national-academies.org

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. A National Strategy for Advancing Climate Modeling. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13430.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. A National Strategy for Advancing Climate Modeling. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13430.
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COMMITTEE ON A NATIONAL STRATEGY FOR ADVANCING CLIMATE MODELING

CHRIS BRETHERTON (Chair), University of Washington, Seattle

V. BALAJI, Princeton University, New Jersey

THOMAS DELWORTH, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, New Jersey

ROBERT E. DICKINSON, University of Texas, Austin

JAMES A. EDMONDS, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, College Park, Maryland

JAMES S. FAMIGLIETTI, University of California, Irvine

INEZ FUNG, University of California, Berkeley

JAMES J. HACK, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee

JAMES W. HURRELL, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

DANIEL J. JACOB, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

JAMES L. KINTER III, Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies, Calverton, Maryland

LAI-YUNG RUBY LEUNG, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington

SHAWN MARSHALL, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

WIESLAW MASLOWSKI, U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California

LINDA O. MEARNS, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

RICHARD B. ROOD, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

LARRY L. SMARR, University of California, San Diego

NRC Staff:

EDWARD DUNLEA, Senior Program Officer

KATIE THOMAS, Associate Program Officer

ROB GREENWAY, Program Associate

RITA GASKINS, Administrative Coordinator

APRIL MELVIN, Christine Mirzayan Science and Policy Fellow, 2011

ALEXANDRA JAHN, Christine Mirzayan Science and Policy Fellow, 2012

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. A National Strategy for Advancing Climate Modeling. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13430.
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BOARD ON ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES AND CLIMATE

ANTONIO J. BUSALACCHI, JR. (Chair), University of Maryland, College Park

GERALD A. MEEHL (Vice Chair), National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

RICHARD (RIT) CARBONE, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

KIRSTIN DOW, University of South Carolina, Columbia

GREG S. FORBES, The Weather Channel, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia

LISA GODDARD, Columbia University, Palisades, New York

ISAAC HELD, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Princeton, New Jersey

ANTHONY JANETOS, Joint Global Change Research Institute, College Park, Maryland

HAROON S. KHESHGI, ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company, Annandale, New Jersey

MICHAEL D. KING, University of Colorado, Boulder

JOHN E. KUTZBACH, University of Wisconsin-Madison

ARTHUR LEE, Chevron Corporation, San Ramon, California

ROBERT J. LEMPERT, The RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, California

ROGER B. LUKAS, University of Hawaii, Honolulu

SUMANT NIGAM, Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, College Park, Maryland

RAYMOND T. PIERREHUMBERT, The University of Chicago, Illinois

KIMBERLY PRATHER, University of California, San Diego

RICH RICHELS, Electric Power Research Institute, Inc., Washington, D.C.

DAVID A. ROBINSON, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway

KIRK R. SMITH, University of California, Berkeley

JOHN T. SNOW, The University of Oklahoma, Norman

CLAUDIA TEBALDI, Climate Central, Princeton, New Jersey

XUBIN ZENG, University of Arizona, Tucson

NRC Staff

CHRIS ELFRING, Director

EDWARD DUNLEA, Senior Program Officer

LAURIE GELLER, Senior Program Officer

MAGGIE WALSER, Program Officer

KATIE THOMAS, Associate Program Officer

LAUREN BROWN, Research Associate

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. A National Strategy for Advancing Climate Modeling. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13430.
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RITA GASKINS, Administrative Coordinator

DANIEL MUTH, Postdoctoral Fellow

ROB GREENWAY, Program Associate

SHELLY FREELAND, Senior Program Assistant

RICARDO PAYNE, Senior Program Assistant

AMANDA PURCELL, Senior Program Assistant

ELIZABETH FINKLEMAN, Program Assistant

GRAIG MANSFIELD, Financial Associate

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Preface

Global warming is a pivotal environmental and social issue of the 21st century. Its long time scales, diverse consequences, and direct ties to our global energyproduction infrastructure make it challenging for societies around the world to grapple with and threaten humanity’s ability to mount an effective response. This challenge is compounded by the complexity of the Earth-human system. The fundamental science of greenhouse gas-induced climate change is simple and compelling. However, genuine and important uncertainties remain (e.g., the response of clouds, ecosystems, and the polar regions) and need to be considered in developing scientifically based strategies for societal response to climate change.

As in most other areas of science and engineering, over the past 50 years, large numerical models have become an indispensable tool for climate science. They allow increased knowledge of individual physical processes to feed into better system-level simulations, which can be tested with observations of the system as a whole—not unlike simulating a new airplane design and testing it in a wind tunnel. Climate simulations benefit from using a finer mesh of grid points and include more interacting Earth-system processes; this requires the largest computers that scientists can obtain. The efficient use of large computers and the large data sets they develop requires increased support for software design and infrastructure—a major thread running through this report.

Climate modeling began in the United States. The United States continues to support a diversity of regional and global climate modeling efforts, now embedded within a vigorous international climate modeling scene. A rapidly expanding applications community is using climate model outputs for informing policy decisions and as input to other models and demands more detailed and reliable information. Increasingly, the needs of this community, as much as basic scientific questions, are driving the climate modeling enterprise in the United States and abroad.

As models, computing needs, and user needs become more complex, the U.S. climate modeling community will need to collaborate more tightly internally and with its users in order to be effective. Recognizing national traditions of multiagency funding and encouraging diversity and creativity, our long-term strategic vision emphasizes the nurturing of self-governance structures that reach between current climate mod-

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. A National Strategy for Advancing Climate Modeling. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13430.
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eling efforts, coupled with investment in cutting-edge computing infrastructure of which a more unified climate modeling enterprise can take full advantage.

We would like to thank the numerous members of the climate modeling community who generously gave of their time to provide input during this study process. In particular, we would like to thank all of the speakers, workshop participants, interviewees, and reviewers (listed in the Acknowledgments). Finally, we would like to thank the National Research Council staff, without whom this report would not have been possible: Katie Thomas, Rob Greenway, Rita Gaskins, April Melvin, Alexandra Jahn, and Edward Dunlea.

Chris Bretherton, Chair

Committee on a National Strategy for

Advancing Climate Modeling

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. A National Strategy for Advancing Climate Modeling. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13430.
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Acknowledgments

This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s (NRC’s) Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report:

Eric Barron, Florida State University, Tallahassee

Amy Braverman, NASA JPL, Los Angeles, California

Antonio Busalacchi, University of Maryland, College Park

Jack Dongarra, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Lisa Goddard, International Research Institute for Climate and Society, Palisades, New York

Isaac M. Held, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Princeton, New Jersey

Wayne Higgins, NCEP/NOAA, Camp Springs, Maryland

Anthony Leonard, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena

John Michalakes, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado

John Mitchell, UK Met Office, Exeter, United Kingdom

Gavin Schmidt, NASA/Real Climate, New York, New York

Andrew Weaver, University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Richard N. Wright, Practice, Education and Research for Sustainable Infrastructure, Washington, D.C.

Although the reviewers listed above have provided constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the views of the committee, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Dr. Robert Frosch, Harvard University, appointed by the NRC Report Review Committee, who was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring panel and the institution.

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As climate change has pushed climate patterns outside of historic norms, the need for detailed projections is growing across all sectors, including agriculture, insurance, and emergency preparedness planning. A National Strategy for Advancing Climate Modeling emphasizes the needs for climate models to evolve substantially in order to deliver climate projections at the scale and level of detail desired by decision makers, this report finds. Despite much recent progress in developing reliable climate models, there are still efficiencies to be gained across the large and diverse U.S. climate modeling community. Evolving to a more unified climate modeling enterprise-in particular by developing a common software infrastructure shared by all climate researchers and holding an annual climate modeling forum-could help speed progress.

Throughout this report, several recommendations and guidelines are outlined to accelerate progress in climate modeling. The U.S. supports several climate models, each conceptually similar but with components assembled with slightly different software and data output standards. If all U.S. climate models employed a single software system, it could simplify testing and migration to new computing hardware, and allow scientists to compare and interchange climate model components, such as land surface or ocean models. A National Strategy for Advancing Climate Modeling recommends an annual U.S. climate modeling forum be held to help bring the nation's diverse modeling communities together with the users of climate data. This would provide climate model data users with an opportunity to learn more about the strengths and limitations of models and provide input to modelers on their needs and provide a venue for discussions of priorities for the national modeling enterprise, and bring disparate climate science communities together to design common modeling experiments.

In addition, A National Strategy for Advancing Climate Modeling explains that U.S. climate modelers will need to address an expanding breadth of scientific problems while striving to make predictions and projections more accurate. Progress toward this goal can be made through a combination of increasing model resolution, advances in observations, improved model physics, and more complete representations of the Earth system. To address the computing needs of the climate modeling community, the report suggests a two-pronged approach that involves the continued use and upgrading of existing climate-dedicated computing resources at modeling centers, together with research on how to effectively exploit the more complex computer hardware systems expected over the next 10 to 20 years.

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