Climate models

An image that shows the future of climate models

The future of climate modeling takes a lesson from Van Gogh’s paintings with an added dose of technicolor for good measure.

Los Alamos National Laboratory released a simulation that captures the temperatures and currents of the world’s oceans in great detail. The image reveals ripples at 35 miles to 9 miles resolution, though researchers can zoom in even further if needed (and if they have enough computing power and data).

An ocean simulation centered on the Atlantic.
Click on the image to enlarge. Credit: Los Alamos National Laboratory

The temperature gradient from cold water at the poles to warm water in the tropics is also clearly displayed, a reminder that although the Arctic is warming faster than any other region on the planet, you probably don’t want to plan a beach vacation there. soon.

The simulation is more than a pretty picture or a vacation planning tool. It’s a preview of what’s to come in the future of climate modeling. The model, nicknamed Prediction model across ocean scalesis part of a large Initiative funded by the Ministry of Energy build the next generation of climate models over 10 years.

The effort is designed to exploit advances in computing and develop exascale supercomputers, which are supposed to perform a quintillion calculations per second. This will allow researchers to model our world in ever more intricate detail and at ever faster rates.

Take the ocean in the image above, for example. Like Live Science notes, the oceans act like “giant sponges” to absorb much of the heat in our warming world. How currents and eddies move this heat is of particular interest to scientists, but the current crop of climate models cannot fully replicate them.

Recent research has suggested that a The key ocean current in the Atlantic could be slowing due to melting ice in Greenland, which is essentially throwing up a brick wall of cold, fresh water.

Better modeling using these supercomputers would provide more clues about future changes and impacts on the oceans, along the coasts and inland. The Los Alamos image gives a glimpse of what some of those finer details might look like.