Regional climate models discussed at Lund conference

More than 200 researchers from around the world are meeting this week in Lund to evaluate the recent development of regional climate models. These models have certainly been improved greatly in recent years; they can be refined further to provide even better support for the preparations we must make for future climate change.

That climate change, very largely caused by human activities, is actually taking place was established last year in the scientific background to the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report on climate change.

To prepare society for these future changes, researchers around the world are working on creating climate models and climate scenarios which describe how the climate will undergo change in different places.

“We’re now moving towards regional climate models of the next generation,” says Erik Kjellström who is Director of the Rossby Centre, the climate research unit of SMHI (Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute).

“These models not only describe the physical processes in the atmosphere but take a wider perspective where we can see the interactions within the entire global ecosystem. That is between the earth’s atmosphere, the sea and the land; the lakes and the biogeochemistry, and how all this affects the climate,” he explains.

More complete models

Erik Kjellström, Climate Researcher and Head of SMHI’s Climate Research Unit, Rossby Centre.
Erik Kjellström, Climate Researcher and Head of SMHI’s Climate Research Unit, Rossby Centre.

Researchers will discuss the development of these high-resolution climate models in Lund. The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report includes an evaluation of the climate models used. The report points out that the models have been improved since the previous assessment. Research also shows that the models can be further enhanced to provide even better knowledge about the future climate.

“We’re developing these models all the time, so they’re able to represent small-scale phenomena even better; these may include torrential rainfall and local winds. In future, we shall also be able to include calculations of the effect of aerosol particles in the atmosphere and processes linked to the seas,” says Erik Kjellström.

Conference in Lund

Just over 200 researchers are gathering in Lund during the period 16-19 June. Their purpose is to study the development of regional climate modelling over the last five years, to discuss open-ended questions and challenges concerning their work as well as obtaining ideas for development in future years. This is the third time the conference has been arranged, having previously taken place in 2004 and 2009.

The principal organisers are Lund University, SMHI, the International BALTEX Secretariat located at the research centre Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht in Germany together with DMI (Danish Meteorological Institute). The conference is also supported by the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), the World Meteorological Organisation WMO and the Swedish Research Council Formas.

Regional climate calculations

Over the last year, SMHI has developed a whole series of regional climate calculations for different areas of the world. This work has been carried out within the framework of CORDEX, an international collaboration between climate researchers for the creation of regional climate scenarios.

Development of both global and regional models

SMHI’s Rossby Centre actively contributes to the development of global and regional climate models. The unit leads in the development of the most recent version of the earth system climate model, EC-Earth. This has been developed by a consortium of European national weather services, universities and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). Similarly, the Rossby Centre contributes to European collaboration in the further development of the regional weather forecasting system HARMONIE which will enable it to be used for regional climate applications.

Together with Lund University and SMHI’s oceanographic research unit, the climate researchers at the Rossby Centre also develop regional climate models to better comprehend the interaction between the earth’s atmosphere and land masses, linkages with the oceans and vegetation, the permafrost and biochemistry on land.