Establishing a New Zealand Earth System Modelling capability

  • Project funding: $1.9 million 
  • Project Duration: Initially 2015-2019

Climate models currently used to predict New Zealand’s climate have limited ability to represent some oceanic, atmospheric, land, and sea ice processes in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean.

This project aims to improve simulations of our climate by developing a world-class Earth System Modelling (ESM) capability using New Zealand’s high performance computing infrastructure.

The project will use the Earth System Model to simulate past climate in order to:

  • validate the model’s performance against observations; and
  • simulate future changes in climate to the year 2150 to provide input into climate change impact assessments for New Zealand.

The two main objectives of the project are to advance fundamental understanding of important climate processes and to contribute to projections of possible future climate in New Zealand. The outcomes of the project will inform not only those with an interest in climate change impacts and policy, but also those with an interest in the physical Earth System itself.

To achieve the objectives, the new ESM will not only cover traditional physical elements incorporated into climate models (such as the physics of the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere (ice), and land surface), it will also incorporate aspects of chemistry and biology of the Earth system. This is important because the terrestrial and marine biosphere is a significant emission source for the atmosphere. This emission source interacts with the chemical and physical processes of the climate, potentially changing the radiative characteristics of the atmosphere. By incorporating these feedbacks, and Earth System Model provides the most complete representation of the interactions between these physical and biogeochemical processes. This is necessary to determine future changes in our climate as well as uncertainties in the size and nature of those changes.

This project will establish an Earth System Modelling capability for New Zealand and support all Earth System Modelling done within the Deep South Challenge. It will build on and enhance our existing partnerships with international modelling centres and will foster a wider climate modelling infrastructure across NZ universities and CRIs by funding access to an Earth System Model for all participants in the Deep South Challenge.

Primary Contact and Principle Investigator:

  • Dr Olaf Morgenstern, NIWA Olaf.Morgenstern@niwa.co.nz

Olaf holds a PhD in meteorology and has worked in the UK and Germany on the development of atmospheric chemistry and chemistry-climate models. He is leading the New Zealand Regional Atmosphere Programme, is an elected member of the International Commission on the Middle Atmosphere (ICMA). More information on Olaf’s work can be found here.

Project Partners:

  • NIWA
  • New Zealand e-Science and Infrastructure
  • UK Met Office
  • NEMO ocean modelling consortium
  • Los Alamos sea ice modelling group
  • Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research

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