September 14, 2023

Advancing Climate Modelling Through NextGEMS: Resolving High-Resolution Climate Processes for Improved Realism

 In the realm of climate science and its ever-evolving intricacies, innovation thrives at the crossroads of cutting-edge research and technological prowess. This juncture is precisely where Mitiga Solutions has positioned itself, thanks to our active participation in the Next Generation Earth Modelling Systems (nextGEMS) project. Emerging from our attendance at the recent nextGEMS event, it´s important to highlight  how this initiative is revolutionising climate modelling and offering us novel tools to enhance our capabilities. 

At its core, the nextGEMS project is geared towards advancing climate simulations to unprecedented levels of granularity. This leap is made possible by harnessing the power of Earth System Models (ESMs) at very high resolutions (~3-km grid), enabling them to explicitly represent storms in the atmosphere and eddies in the ocean—essential climate processes—that cannot be adequately captured in current model grids (~150 km). The much finer grid of storm-resolving models allows them to transcend the limitations of semi-empirical functions, or parameterisations, that are commonly employed to represent subgrid-scale climatic processes. These parameterisations have been useful but are inherently limited, often introducing errors and curtailing the realism of climate models. 

 This shift from parameterisations to direct resolution enhances the fidelity of climate models, aligning them more closely with observed reality. By zooming into the finer details of climate processes, these storm-resolving models  promise to revolutionise how we perceive and foresee our planet's future. 

A High-Resolution Model Advantage: Eliminating the Need for Downscaling 

Historically, downscaling methods have been employed to map coarse climate model outputs onto finer spatial scales; however, these methods, despite being useful in refining climate model output, can introduce errors and inaccuracies. Through storm-resolving modelling, we can now directly capture physics at a level of detail that renders downscaling unnecessary, sidestepping potential sources of error and enhancing the reliability of our climate simulations. 

Mitiga began participating in the nextGEMS initiative earlier this year during the Hackathon event held in Madrid, Spain. Among the participants, including wind farms seeking high-resolution climate projections for wind-related applications, we saw the immense potential of these new modelling capabilities. Mitiga’s role in this endeavour is twofold. First, we are staying attuned to the forefront of scientific advancements in climate modelling. Climate science evolves rapidly, with refinements to model grids and the incorporation of critical Earth system processes. To provide innovative and scientifically robust solutions, it's imperative that Mitiga is well-informed about these advancements. 




nextGEMS logo



Cycle 3 Hackathon



 Second, armed with this ’next generation’ output from high-resolution models, we can integrate it into our climate model toolbox to refine, validate and advance our existing capabilities. It's important to note, however, that these new models won't supplant current ones, as high-resolution models are limited in number and lack the diversity of the multi-model ensemble approach seen in initiatives such as CMIP6, documented in the latest IPCC report. 

Anticipating the future landscape of climate modelling, we see very high-resolution models (also referred as storm resolving resolution) becoming a powerful, complementary tool for risk assessment and impact evaluation. Initiatives such as the European Commission’s DestinE, which also involve high-resolution models, are emblematic of this future trend. By engaging with and actively participating in the ongoing developments in the climate science community, we are well-positioned to embrace this shift when it inevitably becomes the norm. 

Reshaping the Approach to Climate Modelling 

By ushering in a new era of strom-resolving simulations that bypass parameterisations and minimise error-prone downscaling, the nextGEMS initiative is laying the groundwork for more accurate and reliable climate information. Mitiga’s involvement in nextGEMS underscores our commitment to staying at the forefront of scientific progress and innovation, ensuring that we continue to provide state-of-the-art solutions for managing climate-related risks and impacts. As the climate science community progresses, so do we, armed with the insights and tools to navigate the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. 


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