DOE Abrupt Climate Change Modeling Research Discussed in January 2009 Issue of Popular Science


Until recently, the focus of climate modeling research has been to characterize trends in gradual warming and its long-term effects.  Now, DOE has initiated modeling research on abrupt climate change aimed at articulating the thresholds, nonlinearities, and fast feedbacks in the climate system.  This research is examining both attribution of recent past abrupt climate change as well as potential future abrupt climate change based on climate change projections using dynamical coupled climate models.  By including causal mechanisms, the effort could result in the incorporation of abrupt climate change into coupled climate models and would test the improved models against observational records of past abrupt climate change.  Examples of abrupt climate change of interest include mega droughts, rapid changes in Arctic sea-ice extent and duration, and potential rapid increases in sea level rise.  Most current climate models are unable to simulate past abrupt climate change events with fidelity.  It is anticipated that this new activity will lead to more credible, improved models of climate change.


The January issue of Popular Science includes interviews with several leading climate change scientists involved in DOE’ new abrupt climate change research.  [link expired: http://www.laura-allen.com/pdfs/Popsci_Meltdown_LA.pdf]