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NCAR Research into climate issues Climate Analysis Section. NCAR is sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Global warming is “unequivocal”: Adaptation to climate change. Assess vulnerability Devise coping strategies Determine impacts of possible changes Plan for future changes

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Research into climate issues

Climate Analysis Section

  • NCAR is sponsored by the National Science Foundation
global warming is unequivocal adaptation to climate change
Global warming is “unequivocal”:Adaptation to climate change
  • Assess vulnerability
  • Devise coping strategies
  • Determine impacts of possible changes
  • Plan for future changes

Requires information

imperative a climate information system
Imperative:A climate information system
  • Observations: forcings,atmosphere, ocean, land
  • Analysis: comprehensive, integrated, products
  • Assimilation: model based, initialization
  • Attribution: understanding, causes
  • Assessment: global, regions, impacts, planning
  • Predictions: multiple time scales
  • Decision Making: impacts, adaptation

An Integrated Earth System Information System

climate information system


Climate Information System

Trenberth, 2008 WMO Bull Nature 6 December 2007


Climate Analysis Section

The mission is to increase the understanding of the atmosphere and climate system through empirical studies and diagnostic analyses of the atmosphere and its interactions with the Earth\'s surface and oceans on a wide range of scales.

By increasing understanding, we evaluate and develop datasets, new methods of analysis, new products, and establish attribution and predictability and the processes involved, all of which contribute to a climate information system and climate services

ENSO Climate Change NAO


CAS Activities

Community Service and Outreach


  • Assessments (IPCC, CCSP SAPs)
  • NRC (CRC), CCSP, NOAA, other panels, advisory bds
  • Working with postdocs, students and visitors
  • E&O (SOARS, K-12 Education; Public lectures)
  • Media outreach (UCAR contact list)
  • Congressional testimony
  • Editorships
  • Decision making (WGA, WUCA, …)


CAS contributed a lot to IPCC


Coordinating Lead Authors


Some Contributing “Authors”

Lead Authors


CAS Activities


Some metrics

Publications:Since 1 January 2004 CAS scientists have authored or coauthored ~234* refereed journal articles

Impact: Publications are highly cited (4 staff members are recognized by ISI as “highly cited researchers”; over 38,700 citations among us (July 2010))

Proposals:16!: all CAS scientists have 1 or more (usually 2)

Collaborations: Many in universities and other laboratories

Community Service and Outreach: as outlined previously, service is extensive and visibility is high

*D42,D28,F21,H23,M1,P10,S5,T9,T61,W34 (July 2010; incl in press): 301 with Meehl

! In place and pending


CAS Activities

Web page

Receives many hits:

  • CAS home page one of most visited in CGD: comparable to CESM1.0
  • Top section page (by far)
  • 13 of top 20 most visited in CGD are CAS
  • For July 1-25:
  • CAS home page 1800 hits
  • Scientists: 230 to 466 hits (well above other CGD)

CAS Activities

Data Set Development and Community Distribution


  • Acquisition (with DSS) of data

(global analyses; reanalyses; satellite; surface)

  • Reformatting, Evaluation; Improvement
  • Development of new (value-added) products
  • Climate Indices
  • Documentation of methods, metadata, results
  • Promotion of reprocessing and reanalysis
  • Web Access and Data Catalogs
  • Processing and Data Display; Workshops



CAS Activities

Data Set catalog

Has many pages backing it up:

Recently redone.

Has 7 of top 20 visits (out of, mainly for climate indices (3382 hits 1-25 July 2010)


Rainfall annual cycle



Diagnostic Studies and Attribution

Of the real world

  • Of mean, variability and change
  • Phenomena (ENSO, NAO, PDO, AMO, MJO etc)
  • High impacts events (droughts, floods, hurricanes)
  • Processes

Of models

  • Numerical experimentation:

mechanisms and attribution

Development of analytical and diagnostic

techniques to process observations and

model data and facilitate their evaluation


Climate Analysis:

Diagnostic, Theoretical and Modeling Studies

  • Empirical and diagnostic analyses of models and observations
  • Climate observations
  • Community data sets
  • Community software development
  • Climate predictability
  • Climate sensitivity
  • Paleoclimate
  • Climate change

Physical constraints:

e.g. The energy and water cycles

  • How they change over time

Trenberth et al 2009; Trenberth et al 2007


Water cycleresearch

  • The global water cycle and its response to global warming, focusing on clouds, precipitation, streamflow, soil moisture droughts, etc.
  • Model evaluation and diagnostics
  • Land precipitation closely matches river discharge
  • Large ENSO effects
  • Mt Pinatubo effects

Trenberth and Dai 2007

Dai et al 2009

Drought is increasing most places

Dai et al 2004


GHG+O3 Forcing

SST forcing only


CAShas carried out many studies on mechanisms and modes of variability that have contributed to observed climate anomalies.

CAS helps develop capabilities that contribute to an operational attribution activity by pioneering studies and numerical experimentation that might be used in near real time to allow reliable statements to be made not only about what the state of the climate is, but also why it is the way it is.

Studies involve the atmosphere and the fully coupled system.

Sea Level Pressure Trend Simulated by CAM3: 1950-2000

All forcing: (SST+GHG+O3)

(pattern correlation with nature = 0.8)

Deser and Phillips (J. Climate)


CAS Activities

Atmospheric Reanalyses

Current atmosphericreanalyses, with the horizontal resolution (latitude; T159 is equivalent to about 0.8 ), the starting and ending dates, the approximate vintage of the model and analysis system, and current status.



  • E-P_ocean
  • P-E_land

CCSM4 1990s vs Trenberth et al for 2000-2005

Lower as the 1990s include Pinatubo


Decadal Climate Variability

  • 1900-2009
  • 1900-2009

Change in Winter Sea Level Pressure (1980-2008)

  • Dec-Mar
  • (hPa)
  • Pressure Falls
  • Pressure Rises

Hurrell et al. (2010)


CAS Activities

Pacific Cold and Atlantic Warm

CAS: CESM Numerical Experiments and Data Sets


SST product for AMIP integrations

  • Updated frequently (supports attribution)
  • Available through Community Data Portal
  • Used by major modeling groups

Leadership of and involvement in CESM WGs

  • Leadership of overall project, CCWG and CVWG
  • Many experiments for community use:


  • Coordinated experiments addressing role of

SSTs and soil moisture in regional drought

  • 40-member CCSM ensemble (2000-2061: A1B)

Evaluation of CESM and component models

  • Comparisons among models and with observations

and evaluations to score the results, including

in multi-model ensembles


CAS Activities

North Atlantic MOC Predictability

Trend (1st “Decade”)

Trend (2nd “Decade”)

Prediction and Predictability


Initialized Decadal Prediction

Studies to assess the predictability associated

with the initial state and thermal inertia, modes of

variability, internal mechanisms and coupling among

climate system components and forcings

Nested Regional Climate Modeling

Develop two-way nesting capability


Apply to investigate scale-interactions and develop

approaches to address systematic CGCM biases

Provide community support for the modeling system

Apply the models for climate change research involving extreme

events such as hurricanes

Develop unified global modeling system representing a wide range of scales


An Informed Guide to Climate Datasets with Relevance to Earth System Model Evaluation(proposal submitted to NSF 10-554 EaSM)


Evaluate and assess selected climate datasets

Provide “expert-user” guidance addressing strengths & limitations

Fills and major community gap and an immediate need within CESM


Facilitate and enhance access to relevant datasets for diagnostic analyses and model evaluation (including CMIP5/AR5)

Web-based guide, including a means for enabling additional informed commentary and datasets outside of our own expertise

Atmosphere, Ocean, Land, Cryosphere, Biosphere

Expertise within CAS well positioned for this task

nesl imperatives paraphrased
NESL Imperatives (paraphrased)
  • promote innovation and creativity
  • improve prediction and attribution of variations and changes in climate; assessment of impacts; and communicating results;
  • advance our world-leading numerical modeling systems of the atmosphere and earth system, and support their wide community use;
  • advanced supercomputing and data services;
  • support earth system research and understanding through development and support of observational facilities, and leadership of focused observational studies; and,
  • attract diverse students and early career scientists, and provide them with exciting opportunities for educational and professional development.
future needs observations and analysis
Future needs: Observations and Analysis
  • Observations: in situ and from space (that satisfy the climate observing principles);
  • A performance tracking system;
  • Climate Data Records (CDRs)
  • The ingest, archival, stewardship of data, data management;
  • Access to data
  • Data processing and analysis
  • The analysis and reanalysis of the observations and derivation of products,
  • Data assimilation and model initialization