rience and history, different institutions are making different choices of such options; WRF is a “multiflavored” climate modeling platform. The multiple options available allow and even foster innovation but also make it much more challenging for a user of such regional climate model simulations to be assured of their credibility. MIPs like CORDEX2 and NARCCAP3 will be helpful in assessing the credibility of regional climate simulations.

Finding 13.2: The United States has a distributed system for regional climate modeling, hosted both at national laboratories and at universities. The underlying models are used in a variety of applications and have not been as systematically evaluated and intercompared for climate applications as global models.



The current institutional arrangements have many advantages and have fostered world-class climate modeling activities in the United States. One of the strengths has been the development of a cadre of talented scientists at each institution that contribute to the development and use of state-of-the-art models on a long-term basis. Model development is a long-term enterprise, so a stable team of scientists, supported by stable funding, is needed. Such teams provide important institutional memory. The current system has also effectively entrained talented researchers at institutions outside the primary centers into the model development activities. As mentioned above, activities like the CPTs, which are funded by NSF and NOAA, seek to leverage the talents in both universities and national laboratories to make progress on major uncertainties in climate models.

The existence of multiple climate modeling centers in the United States has led to a healthy diversity of activity and the benefits of competing approaches. For example, focused comparisons of model development activities between NCAR and GFDL have strengthened each modeling effort. However, it could also be argued that such healthy competition could come from a single U.S. modeling effort in competition with international efforts.


2http://wcrp.ipsl.jussieu.fr/SF_RCD_CORDEX.html (accessed October 11, 2012).

3http://www.narccap.ucar.edu/index.html (accessed October 11, 2012).

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement