Modelling the climate

This supercell thunderstorm (the largest and most severe class of thunderstorm) caused widespread damage in northwest Colorado, June 2006.

CHAPTER 2 looked at the greenhouse effect in terms of a simple radiation balance. That gave an estimate of the rise in the average temperature at the surface of the Earth as greenhouse gases increase. But any change in climate will not be distributed uniformly everywhere; the climate system is much more complicated than that. More detail in climate change prediction requires very much more elaborate calculations using computers. The problem is so vast that the fastest and largest computers available are needed. But before computers can be set to work on the calculation, a model of the climate must be set up for them to use. A model of the weather as used for weather forecasting will be used to explain what is meant by a numerical model on a computer, followed by a description of the increase in elaboration required to include all parts of the climate system in the model.

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