Interdisciplinary Research on Earth and Planetary Systems Modeling, the Impacts of Climate Change, and-the Habitability of Other Worlds

Lead PI: Dr. Mark A. Chandler

Unit Affiliation: Center for Climate Systems Research (CCSR)

Unit Affiliation: NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS)

October 2020 - September 2021
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: Numerical climate modeling is a primary research undertaking of NASA/GISS and the Center for Climate Systems Research at Columbia University. The GISS climate modeling effort is one of the three major US efforts that have played a substantial role in defining, evaluating and assessing the causes of climate change over the 20th Century and prognosis for the 21st Century. Along with GFDL (funded mainly by NOAA) and NCAR (NSF & DOE), GISS science has been an important contributor to all of the IPCC Assessment Reports. GISS models continue to play a role in nearly all Model Intercomparison Projects (MIPs, see Table 1), and this major involvement continues with the upcoming CMIP6 and its numerous associated specialized MIPs (e.g., for aerosols, the carbon cycle, paleoclimate, and volcanic forcings). Outside of the formal intercomparisons, GISS science has been at the forefront of many steps forward in understanding the climate system through framing the issue of radiative forcing, the exploration of new feedbacks and interactions, quantification of the drivers of climate change, out-of-sample evaluation of climate models, and innovative comparisons to observations.

The work of the majority of scientists at the institute is focused on or overlaps with the Climate Modeling effort, and nearly everyone participates in the development, application or assessment of climate models and their resulting output. From paleoclimate to future climate change studies, the modeling effort forms the core of the research program at GISS and CCSR. The numerical climate models in the GISS series are in the class of 3-D and 4-D Coupled Atmosphere-Ocean General Circulation Models (also referred to as Global Climate Models or Earth System Models). The current production version in the GISS ModelE series of coupled atmosphere-ocean models is known ModelE2.2, and is the most cutting-edge from the overall standpoint of physics, chemistry and computer coding. It can be run in coupled mode to either of two independently developed ocean models, and represents NASA’s contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment projects. The ModelE2.2 branch has been optimized for middle atmosphere processes extending to the mesosphere. In addition, ModelE3.0 has been in development and is soon to become an active production model positioned for the institute’s research future. Another branch of the NASA/GISS family of GCMs, called ROCKE-3D, has been generalized for the study of rocky planets and moons in our solar system, as well as for potentially habitable worlds orbiting other stars. A major update to this model (v2.0) is soon to be released and will also be available to the broader research community, together with opportunities for training and collaboration. Finally, an older, coarse-grid version of the GISS GCM, Model II, has been repackaged for use as an educational and STEM training tool.