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IT1.31 - fact sheet

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Developing fast and efficient climate models

The Tyndall Centre's Integrated Assessment Model (IAM) will need to represent the climate's response to human activities.
Fast and efficient climate models will be needed to evaluate both local and global climate developments, over many
centuries up to and beyond 2100, and to allow the thousands of simulations required for assessing uncertainties. These
issues cannot be analysed using conventional, computationally demanding climate models, which currently take a month of
supercomputer time to simulate a century of climate.

A team led by Professor John Shepherd, from the Southampton Oceanography Centre and the Tyndall Centre, is linking
together a series of simplified models to meet the climate information needs of the IAM. The researchers will select and
test models, tailor them to the questions being tackled by the IAM, construct new models where required, and link them to
other IAM components. A key aspect of the project is to handle uncertainty in the results - which may arise from
uncertainties in the model itself, in the data it uses, and in the assumptions being made.

The climate module will include a range of low-resolution models that imulate the many physical, biological and chemical
processes associated with climate change. A carbon cycle model with medium resolution representations of the biosphere
will convert emissions scenarios into future atmospheric concentrations. These concentrations will be used to model the
radiative forcing that drives the climate model, which will represent the atmosphere, ocean, freshwater, ice and land
surfaces. Detailed results of more complex models will be used to set up low resolution models, in order to allow runs of
thousands of years to be performed in minutes on a PC, compared with about a year on a supercomputer using a detailed
global circulation model.

In addition to providing a climate module for the Tyndall Centre IAM, the development of efficient climate models will also
allow researchers to assess the consequences of a wide range of emissions scenarios over time scales of many hundreds of
years, as an input to future national and international assessments of climate change.

Fast and efficient climate models will be used to put the next century's climate change developments into the context of
much longer time scales.

More information

Contact the lead investigator of Project IT1.31 (Planning and prototyping a climate module for the Tyndall integrated
assessment model):
Professor John Shepherd, FRS
Southampton Oceanography Centre
University of Southampton, Waterfront Campus, Southampton, SO14 3ZH, UK
Phone: +44 (0) 23 8059 6256; Fax: +44 (0) 23 8059 6258

Other researchers involved in this project are:

Dr Tim Lenton and Dr Chris Huntingford, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
Dr Andy Ridgwell and Dr Sarah Raper, University of East Anglia
Dr Peter Challenor, Southampton Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton

Project duration:
May 2001 to March 2003

Useful web sites:

The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research:
Southampton Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton:

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IT1.31 - fact sheet

IPCC Working Group 1 Technical Summary:

Earth System Modelling Initiative:

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