Assessing and validating the New Zealand Earth System Model (NZESM) using modern and historic observations

  • Project funding: $1.1m
  • Project duration: 2015-2019

This project will evaluate simulations made by the New Zealand Earth System Model (NZESM) by comparing model outputs against past observations and by validating specific processes within the model.  The defining feature of an Earth System Model (ESM) is the incorporation of multiple, interconnected Earth system processes. This is both a strength and a weakness. It is a strength because the model captures the feedbacks that result from interconnected processes, and a weakness because errors in a single process can compromise the fidelity of the model as a whole. Validation of global climate models, including ESMs, is therefore essential to ensure that the model outputs will be useful to, and used by, stakeholders.  This includes phenomena such as extreme weather events, droughts, and increased rainfall. In order to do this, the project will mine past climate data, which will be used as a baseline against which we can test and validate the NZESM.

The Deep South geographical region has an unusually short data record, which makes understanding long-term changes in New Zealand’s weather and climate difficult. The ACRE Antarctica component within this project will see scientists work with historians to recover old weather data from the Southern Hemisphere middle and high latitudes back to 1850. The old meteorological observations will be integrated into a model of past historic daily weather maps that will improve our knowledge of the Deep South’s weather and climate systems

As changes in ozone have exerted a strong influence on New Zealand’s climate in the past, and are expected to do so in the future, this project will also construct global ozone climate data records, against which NZESM simulations of stratospheric ozone can be compared. Climate data records of other radiatively active gases will also be constructed to provide a basis for assessing the NZESM.

Primary Contact and Principle Investigator:

  • Dr. Greg Bodeker, Bodeker Scientific,

Greg's interests include the construction of atmospheric climate data records for assessing of the fidelity of global climate models. He has a particular interest in the ability of these models to simulate the global dynamical processes in the stratosphere and upper troposphere that link stratospheric change to surface climate. He also has an interest in quantifying the impacts and implications of climate change and communicating that information to the public. More information on Greg’s work can be found here.

Project partners:

  • Bodeker Scientific
  • NIWA
  • University of Canterbury
  • ACRE
  • UK Met Office
  • NOAA
  • NASA

Latest news and updates

The third Wai o Papa Exhibition: A project of hope for Māori Coastal communities

One Deep South Challenge project, within the Vision Mātauranga programme, has been exploring adaptation strategies to address climate change impacts on coastal Māori communities.

The future of climate modelling in New Zealand

A new paper published in the 2016 edition of Weather and Climate - the journal of the Meteorological Society of New Zealand - documents the purpose, challenges, next steps and future goals of the NZESM, the New Zealand Earth System Model.

“Accelerating progress in global modelling”: Milestone event for climate modellers

Recently, Deep South Challenge modellers met with experts from meteorological and research agencies in the UK, Australia, Korea, Philippines, India, USA, South Africa and New Zealand at a NIWA-hosted technical workshop on global climate modelling.