Stories tagged climate model

Jun
07
2009

The King of All Clouds: ... here to rule the skies
The King of All Clouds: ... here to rule the skiesCourtesy akakumo
Did you know that mathematical equations can calculate the temperature, wind speed, and humidity of clouds? Well, the Center for Multiscale Modeling of Atmospheric Processes (CMMAP, pronounced “see-map”) is using these equations and developing a revolutionary approach to climate modeling that will help us understand the roles of clouds today and in the future.

So what is climate modeling exactly? Good question. Think of a giant grid that covers the globe, with cells the size of Delaware. Within each grid, the mathematical equations that I mentioned above are used to predict weather forecasts and climate simulations. But there’s a problem with this grid system: the clouds are much smaller than the cells used in the global models, thus creating a large source of uncertainty in today’s climate models.

CMMAP has come up with a solution to this problem called multi-scale modeling framework (MMF). Their radical new approach will simulate realistic cloud processes in a tiny-fraction of each Delaware-sized cell, greatly improving the climate model. In order to represent each small-scale process, scientists have invented equations that define the temperature and moisture content in a cloud based on the atmospheric conditions in the entire grid cell. Though this is quite an advancement from the technologies of the past, there is still work to be done to accurately represent clouds in the climate model. As developments in MMF continue, CMMAP could potentially hold the key that is necessary in unlocking the mystery to understanding the weather and climate.

If you’d like to learn more about the formation of clouds or more research that CMMAP is conducting, check out the links!