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High-resolution Modeling

High resolution improves model accuracy and allows important small-scale processes to be simulated, reducing dependence on uncertain parameterizations. Model resolution is limited by computing power. Climate models are carefully designed to “fit” into a target computer.

Marine Ecosystems

High-resolution Atmosphere Modeling

Much of the most destructive behavior of the atmosphere occurs at scales of a few hundred down to a few kilometers. However, many high-impact weather events cannot be directly simulated in low-resolution climate models. Hurricanes only appear as weak lows in low-resolution models, and severe thunderstorms do not appear at all. Less intense but no less important are persistent features due to small-scale topography. Much of the precipitation in mountainous regions, so often critical for water supply in the surrounding region, is forced by small, steep slopes. Even larger-scale climate patterns are affected by smaller-scale features. Drag and blocking by mountains critically alters the global circulation of the atmosphere, and gravity waves caused by tropical thunderstorms cause a reversal of stratospheric winds about every 13 months.

Marine Ecosystems

High-resolution Climate Modeling

GFDL’s CM2.1 climate model, incorporating 1o ocean and 2o atmospheric components, was developed to produce output and science for the IPCC 4th assessment report. When evaluated over a broad suite of metrics this model was found to produce a high quality simulation of the present-day climate and its variability. In addition to other applications, GFDL uses the CM2.1 model for experimental seasonal predictions as part of the North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME).