Evaluating the NZESM against modern & historical observations

Assessing and validating the NZESM using modern and historic observations

The NZ Earth System Model (NZESM) is designed to simulate how our climate will change over the coming decades. It’s highly complex, modelling everything from weather systems to changes in Antarctic sea ice, ocean temperatures to stratospheric chemistry.

Ship's log of weather observations

The complexity of the NZESM means that any shortcomings in one component of the model can compromise the fidelity of the entire model. We’re testing the ability of the model to simulate reality by comparing its results against modern and historical observations. If, in comparison with past climate and atmospheric chemical composition data, the model accurately replicates the past, we can have increased confidence that the model includes the appropriate processes needed to simulate future changes in climate.

To gather comprehensive historical climate data about Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, our project sees scientists, historians and the public working together to recover meteorological observations over the southern hemisphere made as far back as 1850.

We’re also constructing global records on ozone and other gases that absorb or emit radiation. Ozone changes have had a major impact on New Zealand’s climate in the past, and it’s likely this will be the case in the future.

With these datasets, we can thoroughly test the NZESM and, in doing so, contribute to more accurate simulations of our future climate.

This is a joint project with the ESMP programme.


This project in the media:
Kiwis asked to help unlock century-old weather secrets NZ Herald
The 'weather detectives' using clues from the past to study changing climate Stuff.co.nz 
Information in New Zealand's first weather diaries may help climate-change studies Stuff.co.nz 

Research and findings:
ACRE Antarctica: Data rescue to improve understanding of The Deep South weather & climate, Petra Pearce et al, AMOS/NZMS Conference Canberra
An automated satellite cloud classification scheme using self-organizing maps: Alternative ISCCP weather states, Adrian McDonald et al, Journal of Geophysical Research
Assessing and validating NZESM, S. Kremser, J. Lewis, and G.E. Bodeker, Deep South Symposium