Why make models?

What is a global climate model?

Our own experimental Earth

We have lots of ideas and observations about how our climate works. But, since we don't have a copy of the Earth to run experiments on we build simulations of our climate, to the best of our current knowledge, using massive computers. These models divide Earth's land, sea, and sky into a 3D grid so that computers can tackle small parts of the problem at a time. A global climate model combines each of these grid cells into a full earth forecast of our Earth's climate.

Someone didn't invite the clouds to the party

Can you imagine our global climate without clouds? Some of our first attempts at computer climate models had to do just that. Now, researchers at CMMAP are developing new techniques that let us include clouds in global climate models even though they may be thousands of times smaller than the grid cells that our fastest computers can compute.