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What’s in a global climate model? The Community Climate System Model (CCSM version 3) that is run with the supercomputer at the National Center for Atmospheric Research incorporates data about all of the natural processes shown in this diagram to simulate Earth’s complex climate system.
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Global Climate Models and the Southeast Pacific

Scientists use very fast supercomputers to run Global Climate Models (GCMs). GCMs are a good tool to use to better understand Earth's climate. We know that climate is not the same everywhere in the world. In some parts of the world it is pretty easy to model the climate. In other places, it is much more tricky to model the climate. It turns out that theSoutheast Pacific, near the west coast of South America, is one of those tricky places!

Why is it so hard to model the climate of the Southeast Pacific? One reason is that there are a lot of connections between the land, ocean, and atmosphere in that area. Another reason is that other things happen in the Southeast Pacific that make it hard to model. El Nino and La Nina are influenced by the climate of the Southeast Pacific. El Nino and La Nina are also connected to places far, far away in the Western Pacific and even to things that happen in the Atlantic Ocean!

VOCALS scientists want to improve modeling of the Southeast Pacific. They want to make better models of cloud formation. They want to learn more about how upwelling of cold ocean waters is connected to climate. They want to figure out how tiny particulates in the air called aerosols impact cloud formation. They want to know how aerosols and low-level clouds reflect away incoming sunlight.

Last modified September 19, 2008 by Sandra Henderson.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF