It’s a common misconception that climate models work like weather models, capable of forecasting temperature, precipitation and other elements at the same scale as your ten o’clock weatherman’s green screen. But climate models must deal with much more data, often making predictions about the entire globe for hundreds of years into the future. As a result, the resolution of climate models is much lower, with researchers chopping the Earth up into a grid of large polygons in order to run simulations in reasonable time. While these models provide valuable information about the future of our planet, the resolution constrains the conclusions that can be drawn about smaller regions, such as individual cities, or regions with complex geography.
But last year, CI senior fellow V. Rao Kotamarthi and Argonne postdoctoral researcher Jiali Wang pushed the resolution limits of climate modeling further than ever before, completing the highest resolution forecast of North America ever conducted. An article from Argonne describes the work, which simulated 100 years of climate using grids of just seven miles on each side — up to ten times more detailed than standard models.
The new forecast, writes Argonne’s Louise Lerner, offers important new information about extreme weather and seasonal features.