U.S. climate modeling and its ability to meet these assessment demands. In response to the request, the NRC produced a report entitled Capacity of U.S. Climate Modeling to Support Climate Assessment Activities (NRC, 1998a). This report evaluated allocation of resources to high-end modeling and whether these resources were being used effectively. The CRC found that “insufficient human and computational resources are being devoted to high-end, computer intensive, comprehensive modeling, perhaps, in part, because of the absence of a nationally coordinated modeling strategy.” This present study focuses on the challenges posed in the 1998 report and as specified in the statement of task given to the panel.

The purpose of this study is to provide relevant federal agencies and the scientific community with an assessment of the nation's technical modeling needs and a vision of how government, interacting with the rest of the scientific community, can optimize the use of modeling talents in the United States. This study addresses the challenges posed in the Climate Research Committee's 1998 report, Capacity of U.S. Climate Modeling to Support Climate Change Assessment Activities. In pursuit of these objectives, the panel:

  1. Examines the major types of climate modeling, paying particular attention to both the similarities (e.g., potential synergisms) and unique characteristics of each. Specific issues to be addressed include model construction and testing, data input and archival, ensemble simulation, interrogation and diagnostics, evaluation, and operational utilization.

  2. Describes the computational and human resources required to effectively conduct climate modeling in the United States to meet the needs of the climate applications, policy, and scientific communities. This evaluation will include consideration of shifts in computational architectures and potential for, and cost of, improvements in model codes. It will also consider the utilization of common climate modeling tools, protocols, and data, and the availability of cooperative opportunities between different scales of modeling effort and institutions.

  3. Quantitatively assesses the computational and human resources that are presently directed toward climate modeling in the United States.

  4. Describes ways in which the efficacy of the U.S. climate modeling enterprise might be improved, given the current needs and resources. The report will define a set of issues that are fundamental to the enhancement and sustenance of climate modeling in the United States.


Climate models are mathematical representations of the major systems (atmosphere, ocean, land, snow, and ice) whose interactions determine climatic means and climate variability. For the most complex mod-

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