Global Climate Model — Step-by-Step Guides

 index The EdGCM software suite was developed under the auspices of the EdGCM Project of Columbia University and NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

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× This page presents step-by-step guides for investigating Earth system data to model and help you understand the impact of climate change. It is a short version of “Envisioning Climate Change Using a Global Climate Model” by Betsy Youngman etal.
 The full version of the guidebook can be download Here
 

              

In this chapter, users run the climate modeling software, Educational Global Climate Modeling Suite (EdGCM), to visualize how temperature and snow coverage might change over the next 100 years. They begin by running a “control” climate simulation to establish a baseline for comparison. After this first simulation, they run a second “experimental” simulation. Then they compare and contrast the changes in temperature and snow and ice coverage that could occur due to increased atmospheric greenhouse gases. Next, users choose a region of their own interest to explore. They compare their modeling results with those documented in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) impact reports. Through working with EdGCM, users gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the process and power of climate modeling.
Content from this website are abstract from “Envisioning Climate Change Using a Global Climate Model”
By Betsy Youngman, betsy.youngman@gmail.com,
Author Mark Chandler, Columbia University, mac59@columbia.edu,
Scientist Linda Sohl, Columbia University, les14@columbia.edu,
Scientist Mark Hafen, University of South Florida, mhafen@cas.usf.edu,
Educator Tamara Ledley, TERC Steve Ackerman, University of Wisconsin, stevea@ssec.wisc.edu,
Educator Steve Kluge, steve.kluge@gmail.com,
Educator Published January 25, 2010
Global climate models are one of the primary tools used today in climate research. Because of the computer computational requirements these models were originally developed and housed at national laboratories run by the government science agencies.
Students who complete this activity will:
• Gain insight into how Global Climate Models (GCM) are used to investigate global warming.
• Analyze climate simulation data.
• Compare and contrast the results of their global warming experiments with the actual observations compiled by climate scientists.
• Use EdGCM to visualize climate change’s impact on a region and system of their own choosing.
• Have the opportunity to present their visualization results to the class via PowerPoint or with the EdGCM journal feature.

NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (NASA/GISS) • http://www.giss.nasa.gov/

National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) • http://www.ncar.ucar.edu/

NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (NOAA/GFDL) • http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/

 

              

Before You Get Started:

 

              

1.Preview – Read Introduction and Case Study & background materials   2.Prepare – Download & install software                                                    3.Engage – Generate and analyze a time series graph of temperature (40mins)                                                                                                                                   4.Explore – Generate maps of surface air temperature using EVA (40mins)                                                                                                                     5.Examine – How will climate change impact winter snow and ice in the northern hemisphere? (30mins)                                                                                   6.Elaborate – Learn about climate changes impacts on another region.

Download and install the software should take less than 20 minutes. Estimated times for completing the Case Study and each Part of the chapter. Total time 3-6, 45-minute periods will be needed to complete the case study and exercises. Running the climate model is a time consuming step, taking anywhere from 12 to 24 hours per simulation.

• Weather and Climate Basics (http://www.eo.ucar.edu/basics/index.html)                                                        • About Climate Research (http://www.ncar.ucar.edu/research/climate/)                                                    • Global Warming Facts and Our Future (http://www.koshland-science-museum.org/exhibitgcc/index.jsp)                                                                            • Short webcasts about climate change from UCAR (http://www.ucar.edu/webcasts/voices/)

 

2While climate change may seem distant and far away for many people, winter sports enthusiasts in the Northern Hemisphere are already aware of climate change’s impacts on their winter recreation opportunities. People who love the winter sports skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and ice-skating are reporting shorter sporting seasons that start later and end earlier each year.

What will the future bring for these outdoor sports? Should you invest in skiing or skating lessons for your children or grand children? Does it make sense to develop new trails for Nordic skiing and snowmobiling? How can the ski resorts adapt so that they can stay in business beyond 2050?

3Changing seasonal patterns involve more than just winter. Over the past several decades, scientists and observers have noted that even as snow and ice coverage is decreasing across the northern latitudes, it is also melting earlier in the spring, affecting runoff to local rivers and streams. Less snow that also melts earlier means less runoff in the summer months, when irrigation water is needed for agriculture. These impacts are also changing water-based recreation activities as rivers, lakes and reservoirs become unavailable for some groups of boaters and the water becomes too warm or too shallow for some fish habitats.
Since much of the world’s fresh water supply for drinking and farming depends on this frozen storage system, it is a significant topic to
explore and understand.
In this chapter, you will
use a Global Climate
Model (GCM) specifically adapted for Education, EdGCM, to discover the impact of climate change and increasing surface temperatures on the Northern Hemisphere’s snow and ice cover.

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Step-by-Step Instructions

 

Part 1—Download Software and Data

Go to the EdGCM website, download the climate modeling software and install it on your computer. You will need to enter a valid email address. The system will then send an email reply with download links for the Mac and Windows versions of the software. The demo version of the software runs in fully operational mode for 30 days. Link to download EdGCM: http://edgcm.columbia.edu/download-edgcm/. Additional instructions for installation are included in the read me text file included in the download package.

Mac

1. Download the latest disk image (e.g., EdGCM.dmg) from the Link to download EdGCM (http://edgcm.columbia.edu/download-edgcm/). When the license agreement appears, click “Agree” to continue mounting the disk image on your desktop.

2. Once the disk image is mounted, simply drag the EdGCM folder to the desktop, or to any other desired location where you (or other users) will have write access. Launch EdGCM by double-clicking on the shortcut inside the EdGCM folder.

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Windows XP / Vista

1. Download the latest installer (e.g., EdGCM.exe) from the Link to download EdGCM (http://edgcm.columbia.edu/download-edgcm/) to your desktop, and double-click on the file name to begin the installation process. When the license agreement appears, click “Agree” to continue the installation process. Please note that you may need an administrator’s password to complete the installation; if you do, you will need to ask your IT administrator for assistance.

2. The default installation location for EdGCM is your desktop. You may choose another location, but you (or other users) must have write access for that directory (e.g., C:\Program Files won’t work).

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 1.32.12 PM

3. Select the components of the EdGCM package that you wish to install. We recommend that you leave all choices checked since QuickTime and Java are required to use EdGCM. The QuickTime installer will only run if you do not already have QuickTime installed. The Java installer will replace any existing copy of Java with the latest version from Sun.

1. When you launch EdGCM for the first time, a dialog box will appear, asking you to register. If you have already purchased your copy of EdGCM, type in the license key exactly as given in your confirmation email, and click on the “Enter” button to complete your registration.

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2. If you wish to use EdGCM in demo mode, leave the license field blank and click on the “Demo” button. You will then have 30 days to try out the software; the demo is fully functional during that time. While running in demo mode, the registration box will appear each time you launch EdGCM, reminding you of the number of days remaining in your free trial.

3. If you have been using EdGCM in demo mode and decide to make a purchase, leave the license field blank and click on the “Purchase” button. You will be directed first to the EdGCM web site to provide some basic user information, and then to the EdGCM online store (hosted by Kagi) to complete your credit card or PayPal purchase. Once you have received your license key, follow step 1 above to complete registration.

1. Launch EdGCM by double clicking on the icon (alias pictured to the right) in the EdGCM folder. The application will load. The tool bar window will appear. It is from this toolbar window that the user controls the software. The buttons in this window will change depending on the active window. Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 1.34.50 PM

2. Once EdGCM has started up, run the simulations. To run one of the provided simulations and generate the 2 raw model output (data files) you will need for Part 2 of this exercise, click on a simulation name in the ToolBar’s Run List to select it, and then click on the “Play” button at the top of the ToolBar to launch the GCM component of EdGCM and start the simulation. The first simulation to run is the Modern_ PredictedSST. The second is called IPCC A1FI CO2. These simulations can take 12-24 hours to run.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 1.34.53 PM3. When a simulation is completed, the GCM window will give you a message that the run has finished successfully, and in the EdGCM ToolBar run list, you will see a solid blue circle next to the simulation name. Note that the GCM will generate a large amount of output – roughly 2.6 GB for a simulation running ~140 years – so you should make sure you have adequate disk space before starting your simulations. Once the simulation is complete, you will be able to remove about two-thirds of the raw files to free up space on your hard disk.

4. The GCM component of EdGCM – the actual climate model created by NASA – is an independent program that will launch in a new window, with its own controls for pausing and continuing the simulation. When you first start a simulation, the GCM will run for about one hour and then stop with the message: “First hour completed successfully! STOP 13: The GCM is no longer running.” Click on the “Play” button at the bottom of the GCM window to continue the simulation.

 

              

Part 2—Climate Models

Modeling involves using preset differential mathematical equations to represent the forces that control a situation. By changing variables in the equation, one can envision a future outcome. The primary earth system components that are simulated by a global climate model (GCM) include the atmosphere, oceans, land surface – including vegetation, and the cryosphere (ice and snow). An interactive diagram of GCM components from UCAR (http://www.ucar.edu/news/features/climatechange/ccsm-illus.jsp) gives a detailed description about the roles each component plays in the system.Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 1.46.42 PM

GCMs divide the atmosphere, oceans and land into a 3-dimensional grid system. The physics equations and parameterizations are then calculated for each cell in the grid over and over again, representing the march forward in time, throughout the simulation. On the left below is a schematic diagram of the physical processes simulated by GCMs. Many calculations beyond the fundamental physics equations use “parameterizations”. Parameterizations are formulas based on empirical evidence, meaning they are based on observations or the results of experiments.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 1.42.34 PMThe fundamental physical quantities calculated by the GCM include Temperature (T), Pressure (P), Winds (East-West = U, North-South = V), and the Specific Humidity (Q). Differential equations are used to relate these fundamental quantities to each other. Though these equations may look quite complex and difficult to understand, they are common math that scientists learn during college. 

The number of cells in the grid system is known as the “resolution.” The more grid cells, the higher the resolution, and the more calculations that must be computed. In general, GCMs are able to represent processes more realistically as they become higher resolution, but the computing time required to do the calculations goes up roughly 10X for every doubling of the resolution. EdGCM uses a GCM with a coarse grid resolution (8 ̊ X 10 ̊ latitude by longitude) in order to reduce the numbers of calculations and make it possible for the GCM to run on desktop and laptop computers. Pictured are some common grid resolutions for the NASA climate models and the decade during which supercomputers could run GCMs with that resolution.Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 1.46.57 PM

GCMs are computer programs, often hundreds of thousands of lines of code, mostly written in Fortran and strung together by Unix scripts. They generally require a high level of programming skills to operate. However, EdGCM adds a graphical user interface, a database, and some simple structures that allow non-programmers to do many of the experiments with a GCM that programmers and scientists do in their research.

Climate simulations are based on a set of variables that are the result of complex predictions known as scenarios. In this exercise we are using the greenhouse gas predictions from the IPCC emissions scenario A1 – Fossil Fuel Intensive (FI). This scenario, explained below, was chosen for this exercise because it is the most realistic course for the development of world economies and populations.
Modeling is using preset differential mathematical equations to represent the forces that control a situation, in this case climate. By changing variables in the equation one can envision a future outcome. As in other scientific investigations, climate experiments, or model runs, are generally compared to control runs. Control runs use known conditions for the oceans and atmosphere. These are characteristic conditions from the years 1951 -1980. This time period is chosen because 1958 was the first year that greenhouse gases were measured. At that point, in 1958, the greenhouse gas CO2 were at a concentration of 315 parts per million (ppm) already 10% above pre-industrial values. The Modern Predicted Sea Surface Temperature (SST) run serves as a control run for this unit. This simulation has constant forcings, which make it easiest to predict. If the run results of this simulation were to exhibit large changes over time it would indicate problems with the model’s output.
 

              

Part 3 — Generate a Time Series Plot of Temperature

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 2.39.14 PM1. Launch EdGCM by double clicking on the icon (alias pictured to the right) in the EdGCM folder. The application will load. The tool bar window will appear. It is from this toolbar window that the user controls the software. The buttons in this window will change depending on the active window.

2. On the left side of the Toolbar window, select Modern_PredictedSST in the toolbar Run List. To “select” a file in EdGCM, single click on the name.Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 2.39.02 PM

3. In EdGCM, use the drop down Window menu and select, Analyze Output or, use the Analyze Output button at the top of the Toolbar (pictured right).

4. In the Analyze Output window, click on the Time Series tab near the top of the window, then click the button called Time Series in the bottom left hand corner of the window.Once this button is clicked a new window will open, showing you that the program is running a Time Series.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 2.37.43 PM

5. In the list of variables in the center section of Analyze Output window, select the check box next to Surface Air Temperature then click the Extract button in the center bottom part of window (Note: If the extract button is grayed out you have not yet computed the Time Series; it is described in the previous step).

6. In the right hand column of this window, under view images, select SRFAIRTMP (Surface Air Temperature) and click the View button below that column. This will launch EdGCM’s scientific visualization application or EVA, and open EVA’s Data Browser window. The Data Browser will list one simulation in the File column, Surface Air Temperature in the Variable column, and 5 items in the Time or Region column. Confirm that you have these items and then ignore this window while you import a second data set.

7. In EVA data browser open the preference window. Under the Plot Window menu de-select (turn off) the auto produce plots on file open. Close the preference window.Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 2.38.52 PM

1. Return to EdGCM and select the IPCC_A1FI_CO2 simulation, by single clicking on the name in the Run List.

2. Extract the data for analysis by repeating the steps numbered 4-6 from Step 1 with IPCC_A1FI_CO2 simulation.

a. On the left side of the Toolbar window, select IPCC_A1FI_CO2 in the toolbar Run List. Note: to “select” a file in EdGCM, single click on the name.

b. In EdGCM use the drop down Window menu and select, Analyze Output or, use the Analyze Output button at the top of the Toolbar.

c. In the Analyze Output window, click on the Time Series tab near the top of the window, then click the button called Time Series in the bottom left hand corner of the window.

d. In the list of variables in the center section of Analyze Output window, select the check box next to Surface Air Temperature then click the Extract button in the center bottom part of window. Note: If the extract button is grayed out you have not yet computed the Time Series, it is described in the previous step.

e. In the right hand column of this window, under view images, select SRFAIRTMP (Surface Air Temperature) and click the View button below that column. This will launch EdGCM’s scientific visualization application or EVA, and open EVA’s Data Browser window. The Data Browser will list two simulations in the File column, Surface Air Temperature in the Variable column, and 5 items in the Time or Region column. Confirm that you have these items and then ignore this window while you import a second data set.

1. In EVA data browser, select the two SRFAIRTMP files listed in the 1st column, by clicking with the shift key held down. Then select Surface Air Temperature (2nd column), and select Global (3rd column). Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 2.51.57 PM

2. Click the button on lower right to Plot All. The program may hesitate briefly as it prepares an image (graph), then it will plot the two temperature trends on the same graph.Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 2.52.08 PM

1. Finalize your first graph as instructed below.

• Click and drag the legend to relocate it to the upper left hand corner. • Click to turn on horizontal and vertical grids.

• Clean up the legend by changing the colors.

• Add a title “temperature in degrees C” to the Y axis.Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 2.41.38 PM

2. Answer the following questions about the graph:

• How do the 2 temperature trends differ?

• Predict where the IPCC graph will be in 50 more years – explain your prediction.

3. Save your graph for future reference.

1. In EVA data browser, use the pull down differencing menu, located in the lower right hand corner, and select the two files to compare. Subtract the control run (Modern_PredictedSST) from the experimental run (IPCC_ A1FI_CO2).

2. If needed, click the Plot All button. Note: In most cases the plot will automatically be generated.

3. Finalize your graph Click and drag the legend to relocate it to the upper left hand corner.

• Click to turn on horizontal and vertical grids.

• Clean up the legend, by changing the colors and font size.

• Add a title “difference in temperature in degrees C” to the Y axis.

Note the units on the difference graph are not the same as on the original graph. They are degrees of difference between the first simulation and the second. This “difference” is also known as an anomaly.Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 2.42.26 PM

4. Save the new graph.

5. Compare your graph of modeled data with the one from NASA observed data. Note: the axes on the two graphs differ (1880-2010 vs. 1950-2100 on X axes) because the observational record is different from the years simulated with the model. On the Y axes the scale is much larger on the modeled data than the observed data. Make sure you are comparing data where the two overlap. Optional: read more about this graph of Global Annual Mean Surface Air Temperature Change at http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 2.43.16 PM

 

              

Part 4—Generate Temperature Maps Using EVA 

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 2.59.40 PM1. Launch EdGCM by double clicking on the icon in the EdGCM folder; the application will load and the toolbar window will appear. This toolbar window is the controller for the software. The buttons will change depending on your active window.

2. In this window, choose Modern_PredictedSST in the toolbar Run List. This is the baseline for the model. In this simulation scientists have used our present climatic conditions in order to demonstrate the future climate trends with no change in present greenhouse gases or other variables, such as solar luminosity. This is the baseline for comparison with the experimental IPCC_A1FI_CO2 simulation in which greenhouse gases and other conditions have been changed according to the IPCC_A1FI_CO2 scenario. These scenarios are described in detail in Part 1.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 2.59.58 PM1. Launch the Analyze Output feature of the EdGCM, by clicking on the button on the top of the toolbar. Or use the drop down window menu.

2. Click on the maps tab.Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.00.05 PM

1. On the left hand side of the Analyze Output window, choose the last five years by clicking on the Last 5 button. Alternately, manually select the years of your choice. Note: Using a group of five or more years helps to smooth out some variables that may differ a lot from year to year.

2. Once the years have been selected, click the Average button at the bottom of the list. This creates an average of all variables from the last 5 years of the simulation. A window opens as the files are “post-processed”. This step may take up to a minute to complete. Note: if this step has already been completed the button may be grayed out (inactive). When complete, the year range 2096-2100 will appear in the Averages list in the lower right corner of the window. Make sure this is selected by single clicking on it.Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.00.16 PM

3. In the center section of the Analyze Output window select from the following variables by clicking on the checkbox next to each:

• snow and ice coverage

• precipitation • evaporation

• low level cloud coverage

• surface air temperature (in C)

• max surface air temperature (in K)

4. Check the Monthly, Seasonal and Annual check boxes at the bottom of the Analyze Output window.

5. Click on Extract button; you will see a window open, which shows that another post-processing program is running.

6. Under View Images Select the 2096-2100ij.nc file, then click the View button at the bottom right of the window. EdGCM’s Visualization Application, EVA, will launch. Ignore it for the moment.

7. Repeat numbers 1-6 from above for IPCC_A1FI_CO2 simulation. Now both files are listed in the EVA data browser window under the file header.

1. Use the shift key to select the Modern_PredictedSST and the IPCC_ A1FI_CO2 files in the left column of the EVA data browser. Then select Surface Air Temperature in the center and Annual in the right column.Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.00.26 PM

2. Click the Plot All button. The software will generate two maps: Modern_ PredictedSST Surface Air Temperature and IPCC_A1FI_CO2 Surface Air Temperature.Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.00.38 PM

3. The maps need to be interpolated, or smoothed. To do this click the “interpolate” check box in the toolbar next to each map (it is near the top of the toolbar).

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.00.47 PM1. Click on the Projection menu under map heading in on the toolbar. Use the pulldown menu to change the projection to Mollweide.

2. Change the range shown on the Color bar /scale so that the minimum is -45C and the maximum is +35C on both maps. This will give you the same end points on the color bars of both plots.

3. Add overlay modern with USA for both maps. Optional: Explore other overlay options.

4. When you are done, save your maps to use in the next part of the lesson.

5. Answer the following questions about your maps: • What areas of both maps are the warmest? coolest? • Describe how the two maps are alike and different. In particular, focus on the polar and equatorial regions.

1. In EVA’s Data Browser, subtract the control run, Modern_PredictedSST, from the climate change experiment (IPCC_A1FI_CO2) using the differencing drop down menu (as in Step 4.1 above).

2. Adjust the Color Scale Use the map toolbar and click on the colorbar to choose a new color scale, such as panoply_diff.pa1, click center on zero. If necessary “flip” the color scale using a checkbox in the map’s toolbar to make the hottest temperatures appear in red.Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.00.59 PM

3. Answer the following questions about your map: • What regions show the greatest increase in temperature? • Do any regions show a decrease in temperature? • Why do you suppose the greatest temperature increases are over the continents rather than the oceans?

 

              

Part 5—Generate Snow and Ice Coverage Maps

Note: If this is a new session with EdGCM, you will need to complete Steps 1-3 below. If you already have the program running you can move directly to step 4.
1. Launch EdGCM by double clicking on the icon in the EdGCM folder, the application will load. The toolbar window will appear. This toolbar window is the controller for the software. The buttons will change depending on your active window.

2. In this window, choose Modern Predicted SST in the toolbar Run List. This is the baseline for the model. In this simulation scientists have used climatic conditions from 1958 in order to demonstrate the future climate trends with no increase in greenhouse gases or other variables such as solar luminosity. This is the baseline, or control, for comparison to the climate change runs.

1. Launch the Analyze Output feature of the EdGCM, by clicking on the button on the top of the toolbar. Or use the drop down window menu.

2. Click on the maps tab.

1. On the left hand side of the Analyze Output window, choose the last five years by clicking on the Last 5 button. Alternately, manually select the years of your choice. Note: Using a group of five or more years helps to smooth out some variables that may differ a lot from year to year.

2. Once the years have been selected, click the Average button at the bottom of the list. This creates an average of all variables from the last 5 years of the simulation. A window opens as the files are “post-processed”. This step may take up to a minute to complete.

Note: if this step has already been completed the button may be grayed out (inactive). When complete, the year range 2096-2100 will appear in the Averages list in the lower right corner of the window. Make sure this is selected by single clicking on it.

3. In the center section of the Analyze Output window select from the following variables by clicking on the checkbox next to each:

• snow and ice coverage

• precipitation

• evaporation

• low level cloud coverage

• surface air temperature (in C)

• max surface air temperature (in K)

4. Check the Monthly Seasonal and Annual check boxes at the bottom of the Analyze Output window.

5. Click on Extract button, you will see a window open, which shows that another postprocessing program is running.

6. Under View Images Select the 2096-2100ij.nc file, then click the View button at the bottom right of the window. EdGCM’s Visualization Application, EVA, will launch. Ignore it for the moment.

7. Repeat numbers 2-6 from above for IPCC_A1FI_CO2 simulation. Now both files are listed in the EVA data browser window under the file header.

1. In EVA Data Browser window, hold down the shift key and select both the Modern Predicted SST and the IPCC_A1FI_CO2 scenarios in the upper left file window. Then select Snow and Ice Coverage in the center and Dec,Jan,Feb in the right column. Both files will appear in the lower bottom file pane in the order that you generated them.

2. Click the Plot All button. The software will generate two maps: Modern_ PredictedSST Snow and Ice Coverage and IPCC_A1FI_CO2 Snow and Ice Coverage.

3. The maps need to be interpolated, or smoothed. To do this click the “interpolate” check box in the toolbar next to each map (it is near the top of the toolbar).

1. Click on the Projection menu under map heading in the toolbar.Use the pull down menu to change the projection to Mollweide.

2. Note the range shown on the Colorbar / scale is now in percentage coverage, with 100% coverage the most complete and 0% the least.

3. Change the Colorbar / scale to haxby.pa1.

4. Add overlay modern with USA for both maps. Explore other overlay options.

5. Save your maps for future reference.

6. Answer the following questions about your maps:

• In your mind, what is 100% snow coverage?

• Compare the two maps; in what regions of the Earth do you see the greatest change in snow coverage?Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.29.30 PM

1. Repeat the steps you used in Part 3 to generate a differencing map, only this time use the snow ice coverage maps.

2. Edit the map Colorbar / scale to emphasize the change of snow and ice coverage.

• Check the flip checkbox

• Adjust the range of the colorbar / scale to a maximum of 10 and a minimum of -30

3. Save your map for further reference. When you save the map rename it with a name that describes the map, such as “snow coverage map”.Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.29.16 PM

4. Once you have completed the maps answer the following questions.

• How much will the snow coverage decrease by 2100 according to the model?

• How does this trend compare to the trends seen in satellite observations of changes in North American snow coverage? See NSIDC State of the Cryosphere (http://nsidc.org/sotc/snow_extent.html) for more information, maps and graphs.

• Snow is an important part of nature’s water storage system. How will climate change impact water resources in the United State? Read the full report, Water Resources (http://www.globalchange. gov/publications/reports/scientific-assessments/us-impacts/climate- change-impacts-by-sector/water-resources).

• The snow and ice covered regions of the Earth are known as the cryosphere. These regions are important to the entire world’s population. Not only do they supply recreation and fresh water, they also help to moderate the temperature of the planet. To learn more about the cryosphere consult the National Snow and Ice Data Center (http://nsidc.org/cryosphere/allaboutcryosphere.html).

 

              

Part 6—Explore Climate Change Impacts on Another Region

The anomaly maps from the EdGCM reveal that some regions of the world may experience a greater temperature anomaly, and/or a greater loss of ice and snow cover, than others, including regions in which students completing this exercise may reside. The map grid cells overlying these regions provide the actual data for comparison. In this part of the exercise students will choose to analyze the data from the grid cells nearest the region in which their city resides, as well as from another region of the world to which they can compare their “home” data.

Global regions for comparison are outlined below. The IPCC has identified countries and regions with the greatest risk of impact from climate change. These impacts are not always due just to temperature, so it will be necessary to make the connection between temperature and other results of climate change, allowing students to speculate on how each country or region may be impacted and why some countries or regions may have greater concerns than others regarding projected climate change data.

When deciding on a region, think in terms of impacts to:

• the environment – loss of biodiversity, loss of habitat, changes to ecosystem components

• economic activities – primary sector (such as agriculture, mining, forestry), secondary sector (such as construction or manufacturing), and tertiary sector (recreation and tourism, retail, financial)

• human populations – such as increased incidence of diseases or natural hazards, migration and resettlement, or cultural adaptations to a changing environment (clothing, housing, food, etc).

Download the regions map like the one below. (http://serc.carleton.edu/files/eet/envisioningclimatechange/regions_map_grid_cells.pdf) (PDF 369kB Aug19 09)

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 4.02.45 PM

Choose a “grid cell” from your region of interest.

Note the latitude and longitude of the highlighted area on the map. Use these numbers when zooming into your region of interest with EdGCM. 

I. Europe: particularly Western and Southern Europe (Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands), and the Scandinavian countries (Norway, Sweden, Finland)

• The 2003 European heat wave, which is estimated to have killed 70,000 people mostly in Western and Southern Europe, is attributed to climate change and particularly to increased maximum temperatures. More frequent and intense heat waves are projected, impacting health in Europe’s densely populated urban areas.

• Increased temperatures and changes to rainfall patterns will impact agriculture.

• Mountainous areas will face glacial retreat and reduced snow cover, which will impact biodiversity as well as recreation and tourism.

• In southern Europe, climate change is projected to increase the frequency and magnitude of heat waves and drought, potentially impacting water availability, and the ability to generate hydroelectric power.

• Summer and winter tourism could be affected by these changes.

II. Russian Region: particularly Siberian Russia

• Though sparsely populated, Siberia is home to the largest coniferous forest in the world (the Taiga), an ecosystem that is adapted to cold, relatively dry climates with a short, distinct summer season.

• Increased temperatures will alter the Taiga ecosystem, impacting peat-forming wetlands (important to the global carbon cycle) as well as the fauna unique to the Taiga.

• Climate change potentially impacts logging and other forest-related economic activities, as well as dairy farming (esp. in the Vologda region) and crop production.

III. East Asia: particularly China

• Western China, mostly high desert and steppe, is likely to see drier conditions, impacting agriculture and water availability.

• Snow melt in the mountains may increase stream levels and increase flooding at lower elevations further east.

IV. South Asia: particularly India and Bangladesh

• Snow melt in the Himalayas is a significant source for the largest rivers in this region (Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra).

• Increased temperatures will increase snow melt, increasing flood hazards, which is already a problem in Bangladesh. Impacts on monsoonal rainfall patterns are uncertain, but could increase the length and intensity of seasonal droughts and flooding.

• Impacts on human health from flooding and drought, particularly waterborne diseases in the most densely population regions.

• Impacts on agriculture, which is a significant part of the economies of both India and Bangladesh.

V. Southeast Asia: Impacts are not as discernible in this region

• The IPCC cites potential downstream flooding, combined with sea level rise, as the major impact in this region, so the impacts are more indirect.

• Coastal urban areas (sea level rise) and agriculture will experience the main impacts.

VI. South Pacific and Oceania: particularly Australia

• Australia’s drought-prone interior is expected to get hotter and experience longer and more intense droughts.

• Loss of biodiversity in the Great Barrier Reef and Queensland tropics due to increased temperatures.

• Impacts on agriculture and on the availability of water resources in both Australia (southern and eastern) and New Zealand.

• In small Pacific Island nations, higher temperatures will result in increased invasion by non-native species, which is already a problem. Indirectly, sea level rise will impact fresh water and cause deterioration of coastal conditions, forcing evacuation and migration (e.g. the island nation of Tuvalu).

VII. North Africa and Middle East: particularly northern African nations (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt)

• Hotter, drier, greater competition for already-limited water resources.

• Human health impacts from increased temperatures, lack of water resources.

VIII. Sub-Saharan Africa: particularly countries in two sub-regions (probably best to look at the entire sub-region rather than the individual nations)

• The Sahel (Burkina Faso, Chad, Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal)

• The Sahel is the transition between the Sahara desert in the north and the tropical savannah (grasslands) to the south, an area already prone to prolonged droughts. An increase of 5 to 8% of arid and semi-arid land throughout Africa is projected by the IPCC, impacting this region in particular.

• Affects agriculture of all kinds: crops, grazing and animal husbandry. Yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50% according to the IPCC report.

• Competition for scarce water resources will increase.

• Human health impacts from increased temperatures, lack of water resources, could result in large migrations of people from this subregion.

IX. Southern Africa (Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe)

• Seasonal wet/dry periods may intensify.

• Impacts agriculture and other primary sector economic activities.

• Alters seasonal migration patterns of wildlife.

• Alters biodiversity, as some plants and animals will be unable to adapt to higher temperatures or changes in precipitation patterns.

X. Latin America: particularly Ecuador, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Argentina

• Increases in temperature and associated decreases in soil water (due to increased evaporation) are projected to lead to gradual replacement of tropical rainforest by savanna (grasslands) in eastern Amazonia; steppe lands will revert to desert.

• There is a risk of significant biodiversity loss through species extinction in many areas of tropical Latin America.

• Changes to South America’s altitudinal zonation climate pattern along the Andes will alter where, when, and what types of agriculture can be practiced.

• Productivity of some important crops is projected to decrease, and livestock productivity is expected to decline, with adverse consequences for food security.

• On the plus side, in temperate zones, soybean yields are projected to increase (Brazil, for example, is one of the world’s leading producers and exporters of soybeans).

• Changes in precipitation patterns and the disappearance of glaciers are projected to significantly affect water availability for human consumption, agriculture and energy generation.

XI. North America: particularly eastern US, northern Canada, Greenland

• Warming in western mountains of the U.S. and Canada is projected to cause decreased snowpack, more winter flooding and reduced summer flows, increasing competition for scarce water resources, and impacting recreation and tourism.

• Warming in polar Canada leads to reductions in thickness and extent ice sheets and sea ice, and changes in natural ecosystems, with detrimental effects on many organisms including migratory birds, mammals (such as polar bears), and higher predators.

• For human communities in the Arctic, impacts, particularly those resulting from changing snow and ice conditions, are projected to be mixed. Detrimental impacts could include infrastructure (“Ice Road Truckers”) and indigenous ways of life.

• Moderate climate change is projected to increase overall yields of rain-fed agriculture by 5 to 20%, but with important variability among regions.

• Major challenges are projected for crops that are already near the warm end of their suitable range or which depend on irrigation.

• Cities that currently experience heat waves are expected to experience an increased number, intensity, and duration of heat waves, with potential for adverse health impacts (impoverished communities being the most vulnerable).

• Coastal communities and habitats will be increasingly stressed by climate change impacts interacting with development and pollution.

• Coastal communities may become more vulnerable to natural hazards, such as the impact of hurricanes along the Eastern Seaboard and Gulf Coast, due to sea level rise.

 

 

              

Going Further

• Design and run your own climate change scenario using the skills learned in this lesson.

• Use the reports tool to write up the lab report describing your experiment.

• Explore other ways to visually explain climate change

• Explore other climate models to learn how they are similar and different.

• Discuss the question, “what is being done about climate change, locally, nationally and regionally?”

• Discuss the question, “what can you, the individual do? and what are our alternatives?”

With some knowledge of the parameters of climate change, students can generate other experiments using EdGCM’s Setup Simulations feature.
Teachers could create the visualizations and use them as demonstrations instead of having the students work through the lesson. This could be very helpful for teachers with limited time or resources or for teachers of younger students.
Other GCMs are available for free download but all require significant programming skills and substantial computing resources to operate. Some examples:

Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research (general info on their models and climate change) http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climatechange/science/projections/

NCAR/UCAR Community Climate System Model (CCSM) http://www.ccsm.ucar.edu/

Do it yourself climate prediction http://www.climateprediction.net/

NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies’ primary research GCM http://www.giss.nasa.gov/tools/modelE/

The original NASA/GISS global climate model (GCM) http://edgcm.columbia.edu/modelII/

Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis (CCCma) (model info and interface to retrieve model data) http://www.cccma.bc.ec.gc.ca/

NOAA / Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory CM2 (global climate model info and model output data files) http://nomads.gfdl.noaa.gov/CM2.X/

University of Victoria Global climate model free for download (lead researcher was a contributing author to the recent IPCC report on climate change) http://www.climate.uvic.ca/

Within the EET there are several related case studies that explore the the causes and / or impacts of climate change. These lessons could be used to develop a complete unit on the topic.

Is Greenland Melting? http://serc.carleton.edu/eet/greenlandmelt/index.html

Visualizing Carbon Pathways http://serc.carleton.edu/eet/carbon/index.html

Understanding Carbon Storage in Forests http://serc.carleton.edu/eet/globecarbon/index.html

Exploring Regional Differences in Climate Change http://serc.carleton.edu/eet/climate/index.html

Whither Arctic Sea Ice? http://serc.carleton.edu/eet/seaice/index.html

Exploring NCAR Climate Change Data Using GIS http://serc.carleton.edu/eet/ncardatagis/exploring_ncar_climate_change.htm