Identifying grand challenges in climate change research guiding doe s strategic planning
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Identifying Grand Challenges in Climate Change Research: Guiding DOE’s Strategic Planning:. Report on the DOE/BERAC workshop 25-27 March Crystal City For BERAC meeting 20 May. Meeting summary.

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Identifying grand challenges in climate change research guiding doe s strategic planning

Identifying Grand Challenges in Climate Change Research: Guiding DOE’s Strategic Planning:

Report on the DOE/BERAC workshop

25-27 March

Crystal City

For BERAC meeting

20 May


Meeting summary

Meeting summary

  • About 60 Participants – about half from DOE labs and half from universities and other Federal labs.

  • Mix of plenaries and breakout sessions.

  • Organized based on Orbach’s charge letter – seen in agenda in appendix but not repeated as not used as framing for the challenges recommended.


Process of report preparation

Process of report preparation

Initial content agreed to by a drafting group meeting the afternoon following the workshop

Written by the co-chairs and iterated many times with a subset of the workshop participants.

The reports overall message appears to have converged.

However, it still needs to be looked at by the BERAC and the other workshop participants who have not yet seen it (comments through the latter better done from a closed interactive website).


Background to the meeting

Background to the meeting

Climate change from use of fossil fuel energy recognized by DOE as a major constraint on the Nations future development and use of energy.

IPCC 2007 reported that this climate change already highly visible and expected to continue unabated for at least the next several decades.

Since that report, a number of further studies showing some changes happening even faster than anticipated.

A chorus of voices asking for more detailed local information on what has and will change for their planning horizons

NOAA planning on providing a “Climate Services” to meet this need with there yet being little of the research being done that such a “Services” would have to be built upon.


Grand challenges identified by the workshop

Grand Challenges Identified by the Workshop

Improve the characterization of Earth’s climate, and its evolution through the last century to its present state.

Predict regional climate change for the next several decades.

Simulate Earth System change over centuries.


Translation into doe science strategy

Translation into DOE science strategy

  • Report implies that much of DOE’s current climate science program needed .

  • But shift in emphasis called for to realign to fit current scientific and political reality of need for useful climate information.

  • Obtaining and disseminating such information is a hugh task with a large practical component – “climate services” – but such needs to be informed by a research program that DOE can be a major contributor to.


Identifying grand challenges in climate change research guiding doe s strategic planning

Improve the characterization of Earth’s climate, and its evolution through the last century to its present state.

A high-dimensional dynamical system – individual observations are snapshots of components are particular times and place - do not recognize the interconnectedness.

NWP provides a prototype what is needed. Through statistical modeling, combine multiple streams of observations with model predictions to optimally describe system.

Reanalyses go back in time using a single consistent model.

Provide global system research data sets and initial conditions for future projections.

Improves with improvement of the model process descriptions.


Predict regional climate change for the next several decades

Predict Regional Climate Change for the Next Several Decades

  • Much more climate detail can be provided by

    • Use of latest high performance computational tools.

    • limiting time frame to decadal and processes to those that are important on that time frame.

  • Additional information if initial state adequately constrained by observations – expected product from the first Challenge.


Simulate earth system change over centuries

Simulate Earth System change over centuries

On century time scales many feedbacks affect climate system that are not yet modeled or adequately so (e.g., involving biogeochemical cycling, dynamic vegetation, and atmospheric chemistry) .

Carbon cycle feedbacks have large control on how much atmospheric CO2 over this time.


Research areas needed to address grand challenges each area has 3 components

Research areas needed to address Grand Challenges-each area has 3-components

  • Characterize the Earth’s present climate.

  • Predict climate over the next several decades.

  • Simulate Earth System change over centuries.


Characterize impacts of radiatively active constituents aerosols and atmospheric chemistry

Characterize impacts of radiatively active constituents-aerosols and atmospheric chemistry

  • Current radiative forcing-regionally specific -attribution of current observed patterns?

  • How affect clouds?

  • Analysis and assimilation of observations into models.

  • How will forcing change regionally in the next several decades?

  • Changes over century of aerosols and other radiative forcing from human and natural causes and feedbacks with climate change.


Interactions between ecosystems and climate

Interactions between ecosystems and climate

  • What are the appropriate state variables for Earth System models?

  • What and how do natural and managed ecosystems contribute to atmospheric composition?

  • Spatial data sets needed to represent in Earth System models.

  • How will ecosystems be impacted by and contribute to climate change and air quality change regionally over next few decades?

  • Changes and feedbacks on century time scale?


Interactions between climate change and management of hydrological systems

Interactions between climate change and management of hydrological systems

  • Regional climate impact of land use/land cover change?

  • How incorporate impacts of climate change on water management?

  • Eliminate persistent biases in simulated regional predictions.

  • quantitative measures of ability to predict changes in extreme precipitation probabilities.

  • Changed frequencies of floods and droughts?

  • How temperature change affected by changing soil moisture and land cover?


Earth system modeling

Earth System Modeling

  • Plan and develop next/multiple generations

  • Incorporate advances in process understanding to further model complexity and improve parameterizations-e.g. clouds.

  • Develop and improve/validate initialization procedures.

  • Resolve cloud processes.

  • Provide regional details to integrated assessment models.

  • Use next generation of emission scenarios to project Earth System on century scale.


Energy systems and climate change

Energy Systems and Climate Change

  • Most promising near term strategies for reduction of carbon emission?

  • How will climate change and mitigation efforts impact national economies over the next several decades?

  • Vulnerable sectors of society?

  • What adaptation strategies should we be putting in place?


Emphases implied for doe climate program

Emphases implied for DOE climate program

  • Better inform modeling activities through DOE’s climate observational programs (ARM, aerosol, carbon, ecology…) needed interfaces currently missing?

  • Connect integrated assessment modeling to climate modeling – recognize in general major human dimensions elements that involve research questions.

  • Will require training/education of many more scientists.


Directions highlighted

Directions Highlighted

  • Grand Challenges include the integration and communication of many improved and improving kinds of scientific information into overall assessment of how climate is changing.

  • Physical processes, options for mitigation and adaptation.

  • New research, computational, observational, and experimental directions needed.

  • Directly related to and facilitated by enhanced computing capabilities.

  • Large multiyear field program needed?

  • Several workshops to develop more details.


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