SAN FRANCISCO, CA, DECEMBER 17, 2015 — Climate models are growing ever more complex and costly as modelers continuously strive to add and improve descriptions of the physics, chemistry, and biology that interact to cause and influence climate and as they study features and projections of climate change on ever finer scales.

Phil Rasch, chief scientist for climate science at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington state, described to a session at the AGU Fall Meeting how he and colleagues are meeting these challenges, and some of their strategies.

As an example, he spoke of the Department of Energy program Accelerated Climate Modeling for Energy (ACME); Rasch leads the project’s Atmosphere Group. This model reduces the current resolution of global climate models from surface grids that are 100 to 200 kilometers (about 62 to 124 miles) on a side to grid boxes just 25 kilometers (15 miles) on each edge, with 75 atmospheric vertical layers. Running such a model can cost a hundred to a thousand times that of lower resolution models.

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