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Climate Models and Climate Dynamics

A range of climate and carbon cycle models, ranging from multi-box models, to one- and two-dimensional atmospheric and oceanic models, to coupled 3-dimensional atmosphere-ocean general circulation models (AOGCMs), have been used to project the range of possible future climates associated with human interference of various kinds in the climate system, as well as to study natural variability and past climatic change. Models at the simpler end of the modelling hierarchy have been used to assess the interactive effect of multiple feedback mechanisms or to develop multiple scenarios for policy analysis, mostly at the global scale, while the more complex models have been used to provide regional scenarios of climatic change and weather variability, and to assess the strength of individual feedback mechanisms in a bottom-up analysis based on first principles to the extent possible. A variety of regional atmospheric models, which have higher spatial resolution and are driven by output from global-scale general circulation models (GCMs) of the atmosphere, have also been developed, primarily for analysis of the impacts of future warming. Other components of the climate system, such as sea ice, continental ice sheets and their coupling to the Earth’s crust and mantle, and processes atmospheric and oceanic chemistry, have been coupled to or incorporated in atmospheric and oceanic models with increasing sophistication. The University of Toronto has on its faculty several leading experts on these models and has a history of maintaining the large-scale computational resources required to carry out leading-edge research on global climate modelling.

Associated CGCS Members: