Some supercomputers can do more than 80 million calculations an hour! How fast could you do your math homework if you had a supercomputer?
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of UCAR Digital Image Library
Modeling the Future of Climate Change
To figure out what the Earth might be like in the
future, scientists need to know how Earth reacts to changes. Models help scientists
to better understand how the Earth works and how it will react to climate
A model can help you understand how a something works. For instance, a model
airplane is a small version of a real airplane. You can look at a model airplane
from all sides to quickly understand what it is like. But it would be more difficult
to look at a real airplane quickly from all sides. In the same way, a model
of the Earth helps scientists understand more about the planet.
Unlike a model airplane, the models that scientists use to study the Earth
system don’t look much like a small version of the planet. Global climate
models use math to describe how the Earth works. Tons of math equations describe
everything from the oceans to plants
and animals. Supercomputers are needed to
do all the calculations. These speedy computers can sometimes do more than 80
million math problems in an hour!
What will the next century bring? According to scientists, it is likely that
temperatures will rise 1.8 to 4.0 degrees C (3.1 to 7.2°F) in the next 100 years
if we continue to let more greenhouse gases loose in the atmosphere. More warming over the next century would likely
cause many more changes to Earth.
Last modified September 23, 2008 by Lisa Gardiner.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
The Fall 2009 issue of The Earth Scientist
, which includes articles on student research into building design for earthquakes and a classroom lab on the composition of the Earth’s ancient atmosphere, is available in our online store
You might also be interested in:
Kingdom Plantae has almost 300,000 different kinds of plants. Plants are found all over planet Earth. They can live in fields, in swamps, in oceans and in the desert. They can live where it is hot and...more
How will Earth’s climate change in the future? Scientists use climate models to figure that out. But how do they know whether the predictions are correct? How do they figure out whether the model is doing...more
Computers have become a normal part of life. They are used to send e-mail, write a school report or look up recipes. They are used to crunch the latest baseball stats and deliver phone calls to the right...more
Antarctica is a cold place. If you were to go visit, you would need a thick winter coat, hat, and mittens. However, along the coast, in an area called the Antarctic Peninsula, it has been getting...more
The Sun is very important to the Earth. The Sun warms our planet, heating the surface, the oceans and the atmosphere. The Sun also gives us light. We definitely couldn't live on Earth without the Sun!...more
Did you know that the Sun has spots on it? The number of spots on the Sun changes. Sometimes there are lots of spots and other times there few spots. Scientists have wondered for a long time if the number...more
Scientists must work very hard! It will take time for them to understand the information they collected during VOCALS. They must study the measurements and use them to improve their models of clouds,...more