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Center for Multi-scale Modeling of Atmospheric Processes

This NSF Science and Technology Center (STC) will focus on the representation of cloud processes in climate models. The STC’s name is the “Center for Multi-Scale Modeling of Atmospheric Processes” (MMAP), and the lead institution is Colorado State University (CSU). The goal of MMAP is to break the “deadlock” that has stalled the progress of climate research for several decades. Climate models are physically based and include representations of the atmosphere, the ocean, the land-surface, and the cryosphere. They run on the most powerful computers available. They are now providing predictions of future climate change due to anthropogenic changes in the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere. These predictions are being used as input to policy decisions that have enormous economic implications for the U.S. and the world. It has been true for decades now that our inability to simulate the interactions of clouds with large-scale atmospheric circulations is one of the most important limitations on the reliability of climate-change simulations. Poor simulations of cloud systems also reduce the skill of weather forecasts, especially for precipitation. MMAP will address this problem through a revolutionary new approach called the “multi-scale modeling framework” (MMF), in which fine-grid Cloud-System Resolving Models (CSRMs) are embedded within the much larger grid cells of an atmospheric general circulation model (GCM). In an MMF, the CSRM takes the place of the single-column “conventional parameterizations” that are used in current GCMs. Whereas conventional parameterizations are based on statistical theories involving uncertain closure assumptions and little or no information about the spatial structure of the cloud field, MMFs resolve cloud processes explicitly down to a scale of a few kilometers, and so represent some aspects of the spatial structure explicitly. The CSU STEM Center served as the evaluators for the Education & Diversity components of this project.

Status: Ended

PI Institution: Colorado State University

Source of Funding: NSF

Funding Program: STC

Award Amount: $37,505,835

Start Date: 07/01/2006

End Date: 06/30/2017

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