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The fall and rise of the global climate model

Muelmenstaedt, J. and Wilcox, L. J. ORCID: (2021) The fall and rise of the global climate model. Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, 13 (9). ISSN 1942-2466

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1029/2021MS002781


Global models are an essential tool for climate projections, but conventional coarse-resolution atmospheric general circulation models suffer from errors both in their parameterized cloud physics and in their representation of climatically important circulation features. A notable recent study by Terai et al.(2020, documents a global model capable of reproducing the regime-based effect of aerosols on cloud liquid water path expected from observational evidence. This may represent a significant advance in cloud process fidelity in global models. Such models can be expected to give a better estimate of the effective radiative forcing of the climate. If this advance in cloud process representation can be matched by advances in the representation of circulation features such as monsoons, then such models may also be able to navigate the complex tangle between spatially heterogeneous aerosol–cloud interactions and regional circulation patterns. This tight link between aerosol and circulation results in anthropogenic perturbations of climate variables of societal importance, such as regional rainfall distributions. Upcoming global models with km-scale resolution may improve the regional circulation and be able to take advantage of the Terai et al.(2020, https://doi. org/10.1029/2020ms002274) improvement in cloud physics. If so, an era of significantly improved regional climate projection capabilities may soon dawn. If not, then the improvement in cloud physics might spur intensified efforts on problems in model dynamics. Either way, based on the rapid changes in aerosol emissions in the near future, learning to make reliable projections based on biased models is a skill that will not go out of style.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > NCAS
Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:100305
Publisher:American Geophysical Union


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