In a paper published in the journal Earth’s Future, atmospheric sciences professor Donald Wuebbles, graduate student Zach Zobel and Argonne National Laboratory scientists Jiali Wang and Rao Kotamarthi demonstrate how increased-resolution modeling can improve future climate projections.
Many climate models use a spatial resolution of hundreds of kilometers. This approach is suitable for global-scale models that run for centuries into the future, but they fail to capture small-scale land and weather features that influence local atmospheric events, the researchers said.
“Our new models work at a spatial resolution of 12 km, allowing us to examine localized changes in the climate system across the continental U.S.,” Wuebbles said. “It is the difference between being able to resolve something as small as Champaign County versus the entire state of Illinois — it’s a big improvement.”
The study looked at two different future greenhouse gas output projections — one “business as usual” scenario where fossil fuel consumption remains on its current trajectory and one that implies a significant reduction in consumption by the end of the century. The group generated data for two decade-long projections (2045-54 and 2085-94) and compared them with historical data (1995-2004) for context.