Biological and Environmental Research - Earth and Environmental System Sciences
Earth and Environmental System Modeling
Read this message from Gary Geernaert, director of the Climate and Environmental Sciences Division within the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Biological and Environmental Research. Read more

Regional & Global Model Analysis

The overarching goal of the Regional & Global Model Analysis (RGMA) program area is to enhance predictive and process- and system-level understanding of the modes of variability and change within the earth system by advancing capabilities to design, evaluate, diagnose, and analyze global and regional earth system model (ESM) simulations informed by observations.  

The rapidly increasing complexity of ESMs necessitates a rigorous and comprehensive understanding and evaluation of their skill and behavior. Multifaceted, multisystem approaches are required to probe and understand the various feedbacks within and among individual systems, including the atmosphere, ocean, land surface, and cryosphere. The use of model simulations, in combination with observations, enables a deeper understanding of the earth system and models that emulate it.

The RGMA program area focuses on analyzing regions critical to understanding the dynamics of climate variability and change; evaluating robust methods for higher spatial resolution simulations; and diagnosing and analyzing state-of-the-science coupled climate and ESMs across a wide range of scales. These analyses often take the form of modeling experiments that target various aspects of the climate system, including detection and attribution of changes, analysis of climate response to perturbations, exploration of predictability on subseasonal-to-decadal scales, and analysis of feedbacks within the earth system. Understanding and reducing biases of earth system models, as well as uncertainty characterization, are also important elements of the RGMA program area.

To enhance understanding of processes and feedbacks, and to reduce uncertainties and biases in ESMs, the RGMA program area has six major thrusts, each with unique priorities. These are enabled through a combination of university projects, science focus areas (SFA), and cooperative agreements (CA), as indicated in parentheses:

  • Cloud processes and Feedbacks focuses on improving simulation accuracy through better cloud representations in ESMs and on determining the cloud feedbacks that influence climate sensitivity and change. (PCMDI SFA)
  • Biogeochemical Processes and Feedbacks focuses on identifying and quantifying feedbacks between biogeochemical cycles and the earth system and on quantifying and reducing the uncertainties in ESMs associated with these feedback processes. (RUBISCO SFA)
  • High-Latitude Processes and Feedbacks aims at a better understanding of the processes driving rapid system change at high latitudes and the subsequent effects on the Earth’s environment. (HiLAT SFA)
  • Modes of Variability and Change provides insight on the interplay between internally generated climate variability and externally forced response for improved understanding of near-term decadal predictability and projections in the context of longer-term projections. (PCMDI SFA and CATALYST CA)
  • Extreme Event Drivers, Statistics, and Uncertainties targets actionable understanding of multi-sectoral impacts of extreme weather events, especially droughts, floods, and tropical cyclones, and the physical mechanisms that drive variability and change in extremes. (CASCADE SFA & HyperFACETS CA)
  • Water Cycle focuses on advancing the understanding of multiscale water cycle processes and hydrologic extremes and their response to perturbations in the context of the whole earth system and implications for water availability. (WACCEM SFA & HyperFACETS CA)

Some of the cross-cutting capabilities that are the strength of the RGMA program area include:

  • Development of frameworks using a hierarchy of models, ranging from the most complex, very high-resolution climate models like the Department of Energy’s Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM), non-hydrostatic atmospheric models, variable resolution models, and super parametrized models to less complex system models or idealized configurations of complex models for hypothesis testing and addressing scientific questions. (WACCEM SFA, HiLAT SFA, CASCADE SFA, CATALYST CA, HyperFACETS CA)
  • Holistic uncertainty characterization is enabled by a suite of tools, ranging from cutting-edge computational capabilities to complementary empirical models enabled by the latest statistical techniques. This enables us to understand and evaluate the need for improved observations and models. (CASCADE SFA, HiLAT SFA, CATALYST CA)
  • Diagnosing the complex behavior of model simulations and evaluating the capability of models through systematic comparison with available observations and quantifiable metrics, novel diagnostics, and robust extreme event identification methods are some of the core activities of the RGMA program area. These provide pathways for advancing an understanding of the earth system, improving models, and reducing uncertainties that exist in current ESMs. (RUBISCO SFA, WACCEM SFA, PCMDI SFA, CASCADE SFA, CATALYST CA)

The RGMA program area also actively contributes to and coordinates its activities with the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), the U.S. Climate Variability and Predictability Program (US CLIVAR), and Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC).

Solicitations: Funding opportunity announcements are posted on the DOE Office of Science Grants and Contracts Website and at grants.gov. Information about preparing and submitting applications, as well as the DOE Office of Science merit review process, is at the DOE Office of Science Grants and Contracts Web Site.

Data Sharing Policy: Funding for projects by the program area is contingent on adherence to the BER data sharing policy.

 

Current RGMA Science Focus Areas

Current RGMA Laboratory Projects

Current RGMA University Projects

Current RGMA Cooperative Agreements

Recent Content

Recent Highlights

We analyze the simulations of Arctic sea-ice area and volume from the latest generation of global climate models (CMIP6) and find that the observed evolution of Arctic sea-ice area lies within the spread of model simulations. In particular, the latest generation of models does a better job than...
The Hadley cell (HC)—the most prevalent feature of global atmospheric circulation—is a key component of the global energy and hydrological cycle, but its relationship to global sea surface temperature (SST) has yet to be examined systematically. A team comprised of researchers from DOE labs (...
Hailstones are a natural hazard that cause considerable economic losses and property damage each year in the United States. Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have led a team studying yearly and geographic variations in severe and significantly...
River deltas rank among the most economically and ecologically valuable environments on Earth. People living on deltas are increasingly vulnerable to sea-level rise and coastal hazards such as major storms, extremely high tides, and tsunamis. Many deltas experience a decline in sediment supply due...
Arctic deltas are extensively lake-covered, but lake extents change seasonally due to precipitation, river discharge, evaporation, and lake drainage into the unfrozen ground. We performed an analysis of seasonal lake area dynamics on two Arctic deltas to determine spatial patterns in lake changes...
The land surface is a crucial part of the Earth system, and land surface models (LSMs) are key to some of the most important problems facing society today.  But large uncertainty in LSM predictions, and a poor ability to attribute the sources of that uncertainty, mean that new strategies are needed...
The research examines how model selection impacts projections for a particular decision-relevant metric – chill hours. The paper highlights the similarities and differences in results based on whether models are chosen for skill in broad-scale physical climatic metrics (such as average or minimum...
This paper examines both the process of, and outcomes from, a case of “co-production” (Project Hyperion), wherein scientists and water managers jointly developed decision-relevant climatic metrics that are useful for water management and for evaluation of climate model fidelity. The paper opens up...
Precipitation extremes are sensitive to the representation of cloud microphysics in a global climate model nested with high-resolution, cloud-resolving models.
One of the challenges of climate science is understanding how warming will change monsoon rainfall. There has been uncertainty across prior model results, suggesting a need for new techniques to pinpoint the physical pathways of the monsoon changes. A research team led by scientists at the...

Recent Publications

We examine CMIP6 simulations of Arctic sea-ice area and volume. We find that CMIP6 models produce a wide spread of mean Arctic sea-ice area, capturing the observational estimate within the multi-model ensemble spread. The CMIP6 multi-model ensemble mean provides a more realistic estimate of the...
Idealized experiments performed with the Community Atmospheric Model 5.3 indicate that the width and strength of the Hadley circulation (HC) are sensitive to the location of sea surface temperature (SST) increases. The HC edge shifts poleward in response to SST increases over the subtropical...
Hailstones are a natural hazard that pose a significant threat to property and are responsible for significant economic losses each year in the United States. Detailed understanding of their characteristics is essential to mitigate their impact. Identifying the dynamic and physical factors...
The ice sheet model intercomparison project for CMIP6 (ISMIP6) effort brings together the ice sheet and climate modeling communities to gain understanding of the ice sheet contribution to sea level rise. ISMIP6 conducts stand-alone ice sheet experiments that use space- and time-varying forcing...
Climate scientists collaborated in a nationwide event to analyze and compare archived Earth system model simulations and to generate input for the IPCC’s upcoming climate change report.
The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) represents the zonally integrated stream function of meridional volume transport in the Atlantic Basin. The AMOC plays an important role in transporting heat meridionally in the climate system. Observations suggest a heat transport by the AMOC...
A coordinated regional climate model (RCM) evaluation and intercomparison project based on observations from a July–October 2014 trans‐Arctic Ocean field experiment (ACSE‐Arctic Clouds during Summer Experiment) is presented. Six state‐of‐the‐art RCMs were constrained with common reanalysis lateral...
Weddell Sea open-ocean polynyas have been observed to occasionally release heat from the deep ocean to the atmosphere, indicating that their sporadic appearances may be an important feature of high-latitude atmosphere-ocean variability. Yet, observations of the phenomenon are sparse and many...
Land surface models (LSMs) are a vital tool for understanding, projecting, and predicting the dynamics of the land surface and its role within the Earth system, under global change. Driven by the need to address a set of key questions, LSMs have grown in complexity from simplified representations...
Decision-makers today have relatively easy web-based access to climate projections from several different models and downscaled datasets. Yet, there is minimal guidance on the credibility and appropriate use of such models and projections for specific adaptation contexts. The few studies that...