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Additional Asian Collaborations

Climate Affairs

Societies can better plan for the impacts of hurricanes and other natural events. (Photo by Carlye Calvin, UCAR Digital Image Library.)

Thanks to an NCAR researcher, educational institutions in several countries are offering courses about the sensitive interplay among climate, people, and the environment. These courses, which are designed to prepare students for diverse roles in government and industry, stress the importance of considering climate when societies make plans.

NCAR scientist Michael Glantz has organized a number of workshops and training sessions to introduce educators to the climate affairs concept. Climate affairs courses may emphasize such strategies as setting up early warning systems so societies can brace for a coming disaster or steering development away from floodplains and other high- risk areas.

The University of Malaya in Malaysia, the University of Melbourne in Australia, and the Chinese Meteorological Administration are working with NCAR to develop climate affairs activities. China’s Xinjiang University has used the climate affairs template to establish an International Center for Desert Affairs. Several other institutions in East Asia, as well as in the United States, Canada, Pakistan, and other nations, are looking into the program.

Modeling power

Scientists rely on sophisticated computer models to predict changes in Earth’s climate. But the models require so much computing power that it may take weeks or even months to run a single experiment.

To tackle this problem, researchers from NCAR and the nonprofit Central Research Institute of the Electric Power Industry (CRIEPI) in Japan have re-engineered NCAR’s powerful Community Climate System Model (CCSM). Not only is the model faster, but it also can perform well on a variety of different types of supercomputers—including
the powerful Japanese
Earth Simulator.

By using more computer power, the CCSM can produce especially detailed simulations. The image on the left estimates the broad-scale movement of water around South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope. The image on the right, produced by the Earth Simulator, captures much more detail and indicates how heat and salt can move in isolated structures known as Agulhas rings. (Image courtesy Frank Bryan, NCAR.)

As a result, scientists can examine the longer-term implications of rising greenhouse gas levels by simulating climate as far into the future as 2450. They are also zooming in on finer-scale features such as ocean eddies that are just a few tens of kilometers across. These eddies transport energy and properties such as salinity in ways that profoundly affect climate.

The next step will be to incorporate more detailed information about topographic features such as mountain ranges and valleys to gain insights into regional climate. For instance, instead of rounding off the height of Washington’s Olympic Mountains to about 5,000 feet (1,500 meters), the model run on the Earth Simulator can more closely incorporate the height of the mountain range, which reaches nearly 8,000 feet (2,400 meters). This will enable researchers to more correctly capture the amount of precipitation that falls as snow as opposed to rain—thereby allowing them to estimate spring and summer water supply from melting snow.

The result will be an unprecedented picture of Earth’s changing climate. Says NCAR scientist Frank Bryan, “We will be able to capture regional impacts of climate change that have previously been beyond our capabilities.”

log book

NCAR is working with experts in Russia and China to create digital records of historic weather observations. (Photo courtesy Climate Database Modernization Program, National Climatic Data Center fo NOAA.)

Collecting Historical Records

Historic ship logbooks, filled with daily readings of air temperatures, winds, and other data, can provide important clues about global climate trends. To bolster the collection of such weather observations in its International Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set, NCAR is engaging in a pair of collaborative projects.

In Russia, NCAR and NOAA are working with the All-Russian Research Institute of Hydrometeorological Information in Obninsk to create digital records for millions of weather observations taken aboard Russian research vessels. The readings, dating back to 1937, reveal weather patterns in such remote regions as the Southern Ocean, fringing Antarctica.

In China, the National Marine Data and Information Service of the State Oceanic Administration in Tianjin is helping to digitize paper records from U.S. merchant marine logbooks. The records date back to the mid-19th century and cover much of the world’s oceans. NCAR and NOAA are providing the Chinese with other digital data, such as global surface temperatures, for their own research.

Records in the collaborative International Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set are made available to researchers around the world.

Asian Collaborations:

Modeling Power

Air Safety in Taiwan

Climate Affairs

Collecting Historical Records

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