Earth System Modeling

Earth System Modeling Mission and Priorities

The Earth System Modeling (ESM) Program supports the development of innovative Earth system modeling capabilities, with the ultimate goal of providing accurate and computationally advanced representations of the fully coupled and integrated Earth system, as needed for energy and related sectoral infrastructure planning. Key examples of critical information for energy include accurate projections of water availability, drought incidence and persistence, temperature extremes including prolonged heat stress, probability of storms, opening of the Arctic Ocean, and sea level and storm-surge at coastal regions. In order to provide this information, considerable effort is needed to develop optimal-fidelity climate and Earth system simulations, with suitably-accurate representation of atmospheric dynamics, clouds and chemistry, ocean circulation and biogeochemistry, land biogeochemistry and hydrology, sea-ice and dynamic land-ice, and in each case including elements of human activities that affect these systems such as water management and land-use.

ESM utilizes the mathematical and computational expertise within the DOE-Laboratories to develop efficient, accurate and advanced algorithms for these Earth system processes, and to improve model initialization, optimal component coupling and uncertainty of system simulation and climate projections.  The aim is to optimize the Earth system codes to run efficiently on DOE computers architectures, using modern and sustainable software and workflows, providing the Nation with a high-resolution coupled climate and Earth system simulation capability that is vital for accurately understanding how the climate and earth system evolve and also support DOE responsibilities involving energy planning.

Central to the ESM Program is the Accelerated Climate Modeling for Energy (ACME) project, launched by BER in 2014 to develop a high-resolution Earth system model that efficiently runs at high-resolution on DOE leadership computers, simulating the near-term past (for validation) and future (3-4 decades, to 2050) in support of the DOE science mission. ACME will design and perform high-resolution Earth system simulations, targeting the research community’s more challenging science questions, e.g., involving cloud-aerosol interactions, ice sheet physics, biogeochemistry, hydrology, ocean eddy dynamics, and the interdependence of low frequency variability and extreme weather. Other activities supported by ESM complement and enhance ACME, including the development of potential future-generation ACME capabilities within the Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing (SciDAC) Program and supporting collaborative and community codes that are developed and used by multiple climate and weather groups.

The ESM Program contributes to the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), and coordinates its activities with the climate modeling programs at other federal agencies, particularly the National Science Foundation (NSF) through the CESM project, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

ESM and BER Programmatic Collaborations

ESM supports the development of all essential components of the coupled Earth-human system needed to simulate Earth system and climate by DOE’s research community. Each component (atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and land) use advanced variable-resolution grids, allowing ultra-high resolution information and process resolution within particular regions of interest. One example is the placement of a very high resolution (e.g. 10 km) atmosphere near the location of a DOE ARM site, in order to overlap the global-model’s cloud-resolving capability with higher-resolution Large-Eddy-Simulations (LES’s) and with the ARM data; this integration of high resolution models with LES and ARM observations serves as a means of studying cloud processes and the coupling with the global system. Another example is the placement of high resolution modeling capabilities in the ocean surrounding Antarctica and along the margins of the Antarctic ice sheet.  Without such high resolution, predictions would be unable to represent many of the critical processes controlling future change, e.g., involving the flow of the ocean up under the ice-sheet, and the dynamics in the ice sheet where the ocean and ice meet. A third example is configuring the land model using basin-gridding instead of rectangular grids in order to effectively study the water flow and supply changes within specific basins.

For global atmospheric models, ESM partners with BER’s Atmospheric System Research (ASR) Program to develop cloud and aerosol parameterizations needed to understand how clouds are shifting and influencing climate sensitivity. The multi-scale Climate Model Development and Validation (CMDV) Program also supports projects that study cloud and aerosol processes, spanning scales from Large-Eddy Simulation (LES) scale to global-model scale, and validating the simulations using Atmospheric Radiation Measurement ARM Facility data as well as other measurements.

For land modeling, ESM collaborates with Terrestrial Ecosystem Science to develop global land model parameterizations, incorporating modeling capabilities that are based on TES field investigations within particular regions. CMDV also supports liaisons that interconnect the modeling activities between ACME and the Next Generation Ecosystem Experiments (NGEE) in the Tropics and the Arctic. These joint efforts are contributing new hydrologic and dynamic ecosystem representations to the ACME model, using validation from field investigations.

ESM and Integrated Assessment Research (IAR) collaborate on the development of coupled human-natural systems, such as understanding how land and water management activities affect the Earth system, as needed for optimal detailed Earth system simulations. An important example is the alignment and coordination between the ACME and the Global Change Assessment Model (GCAM) integrated assessment model. The Integrated Earth System Model project directly coded and coupled the interactions between the climate model CESM and the integrated assessment model GCAM through the terrestrial-carbon cycle. The code from this project will be released to the community in 2017, and will be included in the ACME model for further development.

ESM and Regional and Global Climate Modeling (RGCM) are complementary Programs, with ESM supporting primarily model development, and RGCM focused on model analysis, intercomparison, metrics and validation, as well as using the models to evaluate system sensitivities and feedbacks. Important synergies include high-latitude modeling and research, biogeochemical feedbacks and the international Land Modeling Bencharking (iLAMB) project, use of climate-modeling metrics and diagnostics (e.g. Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI) metrics for ACME), and the use of high-resolution models such as ACME to study extremes.

ESM Computation and Programmatic ASCR and BER Collaborations

Essential to ESM is its collaboration with the Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) Office, in particular the SciDAC partnership program. SciDAC supports partnership between ASCR and the other Office of Science offices, in order to dramatically accelerate progress in scientific computing. Examples of advances in the BER-ESM-SciDAC projects include the development of: variable-resolution Earth system components, algorithms and mathematical methods to improve efficiency and accuracy of Earth system component simulation on advanced computational architectures, uncertainty characterization of modeling systems, and advances in code performance and portability.

Current BER-ESM-SciDAC projects are developing future capabilities needed in the ACME model, including next-generation dynamic and variable-resolution ice sheet models (Predicting Ice Sheet and Climate Evolution at Extreme Scales (PISCEES)), improved treatments of atmospheric convection and physics, and oceanic eddies that apply across their variable-mesh atmosphere and ocean components (Multiscale Methods for Accurate, Efficient, and Scale-Aware Models of the Earth System), and the next-generation version of ACME atmosphere, which will include non-hydrostatic dynamics, as needed when the model approaches very high-resolution (less than 10km) (A Non-hydrostatic Variable Resolution Atmospheric Model in ACME).

In order for ACME to develop sustainable and portable codes, state-of-science software development methods are important. The Climate Model Development and Validation Program’s ACME-SM: A Global Climate Model Software Modernization Surge is transforming ACME’s atmospheric and coupler codes, introducing new infrastructure capabilities and thorough and improved testing approaches within some of the most critical sub-modules. These developments are expected to be of broad benefit to Earth system as well as other complex, distributed and advanced computational modeling efforts.

Since ACME will be producing very-high resolution, and  high frequency (sub-daily) model output, workflows to manage (download, move, store and analyze) large model outputs are needed. ESM collaborates with BER’s Data Management (DM) on the infrastructure and tools needed for managing large model ouput datasets. The Earth System Grid Federation (ESGF), supported by DM, is critical for hosting and sharing the data generated by ACME and other climate models. ACME’s support of UV-CDAT and similar model analytic tools are also of use to ESGF user communities.

Community Projects Supported by ESM
  • ESM supports many code and component developments that are used by multiple modeling groups, and in some cases supported jointly with other sponsors.
  • The Common Infrastructure for Modeling the Earth (CIME) is jointly developed between ACME and the CESM software engineering groups, to provide various tools and infrastructure for the CESM and ACME models.
  • The sea-ice (CICE) model is a collaborative activity led by scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory together with scientists from several other climate and operational modeling centers and groups.
  • Ultrascale Visualization (UV-CDAT) is a software package for analysis, visualization and management of Earth system model output. It is part of the ACME project, but is used broadly and co-sponsored by NASA as well as DOE.
  • The Functionally Assembled Terrestrial Ecosystem Simulator (FATES) is a tropical ecosystem model under development as part of the Terrestrial Ecosystem Sciences (TES) Next Generation Ecosystem Experiment (NGEE) – Tropics and is co-supported by ESM.
  • The MARBL: Marine Biogeochemistry Library (led by Long, NCAR) is developing a modular ocean biogeochemistry (BGC) capability for use in both ACME and the Community Earth System Model (CESM), and to include options of BGC complexity as needed for a range of research projects.
  • The Community Emissions Data System (CEDS) (led by Smith, PNNL) is establishing a comprehensive emissions database for Earth system models, with a focus on short-lived species such as aerosols and ozone precursors, with the emissions subdivided by processes in a manner that will allow evaluation of emissions uncertainty.
  • The Cloud Layers Unified by Binormals (CLUBB) is a cloud and turbulence parameterization used in the ACME model as well as other Earth system models, and has been supported by NSF and NOAA as well as DOE.
Examples of Additional Projects Supported by ESM

Recent Content

Recent Highlights

Land-surface models capable of capturing the impact of topographic variability could be better at simulating land-surface processes such as soil moisture and runoff, essential to understanding energy exchanges between land, water, and atmosphere. Exploring different approaches to represent the...
A new study shows how dust from deserts and organic sea spray from tiny organisms in the ocean both play a role in freezing water droplets in clouds.
Dust particles from African and Asian deserts can travel long distances through the atmosphere, but a lack of integrated observations has made it difficult to assess the complex and size-dependent processes associated with dust emission, transport, and removal.
Surface meltwater that drains to the bed of the Greenland Ice Sheet each summer causes changes in ice flow that cannot be fully explained by prevailing theories.  Application of a new model for extensive, sediment-choked subglacial “swamps” at the ice sheet bed found that slow leakage of water...
Stokes-flow ice sheet models are commonly used to generate solutions of reference for ice sheet model intercomparison test cases. To date, a single model, Elmer-Ice, has been used by the community for generating these reference solutions. We conduct a detailed comparison with a second Stokes model...

Publications

Topography plays an important role in land surface processes through its influence on atmospheric forcing, soil and vegetation properties, and river network topology and drainage area. Land surface models with a spatial structure that captures spatial heterogeneity, which is directly affected by...
Ice-nucleating particles (INPs) are known to affect the amount of ice in mixed-phase clouds, thereby influencing many of their properties. The atmospheric INP concentration changes by orders of magnitude from terrestrial to marine environments, which typically contain much lower concentrations....
Our work is motivated by previous studies of trans-Atlantic transport of Saharan dust and observed quasi-static nature of coarse mode aerosol with a volume median diameter (VMD) of approximately 3.5 μm. We examine coarse mode contributions from trans-Pacific transport of dust to North American...
Penetration of surface meltwater to the bed of the Greenland Ice Sheet each summer causes an initial increase in ice speed due to elevated basal water pressure, followed by slowdown in late summer that continues into fall and winter. While this seasonal pattern is commonly explained by an...
We present a comparison of the numerics and simulation results for two “full” Stokes ice sheet models, FELIX-S and Elmer/Ice. The models are applied to the Marine Ice Sheet Model Intercomparison Project for plan view models (MISMIP3d). For diagnostic experiments, the two models give similar...