The U.S. Departments of Energy (DOE) and Agriculture (USDA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced on Monday the launch of a joint research program to produce high-resolution models for predicting climate change and its resulting impacts.

Called Decadal and Regional Climate Prediction Using Earth System Models (EaSM), the program is designed to generate models that—because they are significantly more powerful than existing models—can help decision-makers develop adaptation strategies addressing climate change. These models will be developed through a joint, interagency solicitation for proposals.

EaSM is distinguished by its promise for generating: 1) predictions of climate change and associated impacts at more localized scales and over shorter time periods than previously possible; and 2) innovative interdisciplinary approaches to address the interdisciplinary sources and impacts of climate change. These interdisciplinary approaches will draw on biologists, chemists, computer scientists, geoscientists, materials scientists, mathematicians, physicists, computer specialists, and social scientists.

"The impacts of energy production and use on climate and the impacts of a changing climate on our future energy infrastructure are among the most critical challenges facing the Department of Energy," said Dr. William F. Brinkman, director of the DOE’s Office of Science. "This research will help us better understand how much our climate is changing and what that will mean at both a global and regional level over the next few decades."

By producing reliable, accurate information about climate change and resulting impacts at improved geographic and temporal resolutions, models developed under the EaSM solicitation will provide decision-makers with sound scientific bases for developing adaptation and management responses to climate change at regional levels.

The three federal agencies intend to pursue different research goals through the new program:

  • The DOE is particularly interested in developing models that better define interactions between climate change and decadal modes of natural climate variability, simulate climate extremes under a changing climate, and help resolve the uncertainties of the indirect effects of aerosols on climate.
  • The NSF is particularly interested in developing models that will produce reliable predictions of 1) climate change at regional and decadal scales; 2) resulting impacts; and 3) potential adaptations of living systems to these impacts. Related research may, for example, include studies of natural decadal climate change, regional aspects of water and nutrient cycling, and methods to test predictions of climate change.
  • The USDA is particularly interested in developing climate models that can be linked to crop, forestry, and livestock models. Such models will be used to help assess possible risk management strategies and projections of yields at various spatial and temporal scales.

Source: DOE