U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

Paying Attention to Details Can Improve Global Climate Models
Published: January 10, 2011
Posted: January 14, 2011

Global models typically cannot simulate the small-scale wind gustiness that results from ocean-eddy sized variations in water temperature yet this gustiness affects processes in the atmospheric surface air as well as the overlying clouds. A recently published, DOE supported analysis of Community Climate System Model (CCSM) experiments used high-resolution satellite observations, such as surface winds and sea surface temperature, to challenge the fidelity of high-resolution climate simulations. The study found that these fine-scale features are captured only when the ocean model resolution is so great that it is able to resolve ocean eddies. However, the features are still weaker than observed, even if the atmospheric resolution is increased. This suggests that better sub-grid scale parameterizations of the atmospheric processes are needed, and not just increased atmospheric model resolution. This research provides insight into the best modeling approaches for simulating the climate impacts of small-scale features at the ocean-air interface. We anticipate that improved parameterizations based on this approach will potentially remove biases and reduce uncertainties in climate predictions.

Reference: Bryan, F.O., R. Tomas, J. M. Dennis, D. B. Chelton, N.G. Loeb, and J. L. McClean. 2010. "Frontal Scale Air-Sea Interaction in High-Resolution Coupled Climate Models," Journal of Climate 23:6277-91.

Contact: Renu Joseph, SC-23.1, (301) 903-9237, Dorothy Koch, SC-23.1, (301) 903-0105
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Earth and Environmental Systems Modeling

Division: SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER


BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

May 10, 2019
Quantifying Decision Uncertainty in Water Management via a Coupled Agent-Based Model
Considering risk perception can improve the representation of human decision-making processes in age [more...]

May 09, 2019
Projecting Global Urban Area Growth Through 2100 Based on Historical Time Series Data and Future Scenarios
Study provides country-specific urban area growth models and the first dataset on country-level urba [more...]

May 05, 2019
Calibrating Building Energy Demand Models to Refine Long-Term Energy Planning
A new, flexible calibration approach improved model accuracy in capturing year-to-year changes in bu [more...]

May 03, 2019
Calibration and Uncertainty Analysis of Demeter for Better Downscaling of Global Land Use and Land Cover Projections
Researchers improved the Demeter model’s performance by calibrating key parameters and establi [more...]

Apr 22, 2019
Representation of U.S. Warm Temperature Extremes in Global Climate Model Ensembles
Representation of warm temperature events varies considerably among global climate models, which has [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)