Global Climate Change

Understanding how we affect our environment

DOE Program Managers
Renu Joseph
DOE Office of
Biological & Environmental Research  
Randal Laviolette
DOE Office of
Advanced Scientific Computing Research
Karen Pao
Applied Math Centers and Institutes   

Fossil fuel combustion for energy production is altering the chemical makeup of the Earth's atmosphere. The consequences for climate change and the potential for significant, even catastrophic, nonlinear feedbacks through the Earth system are topics of significant international debate. These global changes, principally driven by human activities at regional scales, require us to acquire an unprecedented understanding of potential regional and global changes in our environment, economy, and society.

Climate scientists today face challenging uncertainties about how climate systems will respond to future environmental changes. There are many compelling questions that must be answered if we are to predict future climate and gain the understanding needed to assess and ameliorate the potential impacts of energy use. The key science question that drives the SciDAC Climate research is complex and complicated. Simply put, it is

How will the Earth's climate respond to physical, chemical, and biological changes produced by global alterations of the atmosphere, ocean, and land?

The Departmentís charge to understand the impacts of energy production and use on the environment continues to lead the evolution of the climate modeling and simulation research agenda in conjunction with the Climate Change Prediction Program. SciDAC efforts will advance the development of future climate models based on theoretical foundations and improved computational methods that dramatically increase both the accuracy and throughput of computer model-based predictions of future climate system response to the increased atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases.

Ice Sheet Initiative for CLimate ExtremeS (ISICLES) launched in 2009

ASCR launched a new initiative for high resolution ice sheet modeling codes, scalable on high performance computers in 2009 July. ISICLES (Ice Sheet Initiative for CLimate ExtremeS) will allow better inclusion of dynamic ice sheet modeling in Earth System and Climate models. Six projects were awarded for three years (for a total of three million dollars per year) based on proposals submitted to funding opportunity announcements DE-PS02-09ER09-21 and LAB 09-21. More details can be found at

Climate Research Projects Announced in September 2006

Modeling the Earth System
Creating a first generation Earth system model that fully simulates the coupling between the physical, chemical, and biogeochemical processes in the climate system
    Principal Investigator: John B. Drake (
    Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Includes two Science Application Partnerships ó
Statistical Approaches to Aerosol Dynamics for Climate Simulation

    Principal Investigator: Robert McGraw (
    Brookhaven National Laboratory
Performance Engineering for the Next Generation Community Climate System Model
    Principal Investigator: Pat Worley (
    Oak Ridge National Laboratory

On a Cloudy Day - The Role of Clouds in Global Climate
Design and Testing of a Global Cloud-Resolving Model
    Principal Investigator: David A. Randall (
    Colorado State University

Improving Global Climate Models
Developing a uniform set of software tools suitable for evaluation of high-end climate models
    Principal Investigator: Rao Kotamarthi (
    Argonne National Laboratory

Continuing Projects

Continuous Dynamic Grid Adaptation in a Global Atmospheric Model
Developing continuous dynamic grid adaptation to cluster grid points in targeted regions of interest
    Principal Investigator: William Gutowski (
    Iowa State University

Alumni Projects

Predictive Understanding of the Oceans' Wind-Driven Circulation on Interdecadal Time Scales
Understanding and predicting wind-driven, near-surface flow in mid-latitude ocean basins
    Principal Investigator: Michael Ghil (
    University of California - Los Angeles

A Geodesic Climate Model with Quasi-Lagrangian Vertical Coordinates
Developing a geodesic gridded global climate model coupling atmosphere, ocean, sea-ice, and land use
    Principal Investigator: David Randall (
    Colorado State University

Decadal Regional Climate Studies and Applications with Variable-Resolution GCMs Using Advanced Numerical Techniques
Developing stretched grid general circulation models and studying anomalous climate events for variability/predictability
    Principal Investigator: Michael Fox-Rabinovitz (
    University of Maryland

Collaborative Design and Development of the Community Climate System Model (CCSM) for Terascale Computers
Ongoing development of CCSM, adding components and couplers, and porting to new computer architectures
    Principal Investigator: Phil Jones (
    Los Alamos National Laboratory

Modeling and Analysis of Global and Regional Hydrologic Processes and Appropriate Conservation of Moist Entropy
Studying global water vapor and inert trace constituent transport in relation to climate change
    Principal Investigator: Donald Johnson (
    University of Wisconson

Modeling Dynamic Vegetation for Decadal to Multi-Century Climate Change Studies
Developing a model of vegetation dynamics for coupling with general circulation models
    Principal Investigator: Igor Aleinov (
    NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

Towards the Prediction of Decadal to Multi-Century Processes in a High-Throughput Climate System Model
Studying the interaction of climate and the land biosphere in mid-latitude decadal variability
    Principal Investigator: Zhengyu Liu (
    University of Wisconsin

Multi-Resolution Climate Modeling
Developing a spectral element model of atmospheric general circulation as a component for a coupled model
    Principal Investigator: Ferdinand Baer (
    University of Maryland

Improving the Processes of Land-Atmosphere Interactions in CCSM 2.0 at High Resolution
Comparing three approaches for including heterogeneities in model treatment of land-atmosphere coupling
    Principal Investigator: Robert Dickinson (
    Georgia Tech Research Corp.

Decadal Variability in the Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere Systems
Studying how ocean thermal gradients transfer from the surface to the abyss, important to earth's climate system
    Principal Investigator: Paola Cessi (
    Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego

Testing a New Hybrid Ocean Circulation Model Based on POP
Developing the vertical component of a hybrid ocean model for better handling of advection and lateral mixing
    Principal Investigator: Kirk Bryan (Kirk Bryan)
    Princeton University

Development of an Atmospheric Climate Model with Self-Adapting Grid and Physics
Developing adaptive grids and physics modules that self-adjust based on atmospheric flow conditions
    Principal Investigator: Joyce Penner (
    University of Michigan


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