Supercomputer research predicts more rain for Europe under warmer climate

As supercomputers become more powerful, the climate of the future becomes more and more precise. In this case, it is the climate of Europe and the North Atlantic, recently elucidated by a new high-resolution model powered by supercomputers and managed by scientists at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) in collaboration with the Met British Office.

“IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] models predict a likely increase in winter precipitation over northern Europe under a high emission scenario, ”reads the article, published in the May issue of Environmental research letters. “These projections, however, are generally based on relatively coarse resolution models of around 100 km that can distort important processes that cause precipitation, such as extratropical cyclone activity and ocean eddies.”

The climate model of these researchers, on the other hand, was a “pioneer” atmospheric model operating at a resolution of 50 km coupled with a similar high-resolution ocean model. To run this intensive model, the researchers used the Barcelona Supercomputing Center’s internal supercomputer: specifically, its MareNostrum 4 supercomputer, which delivers 6.5 Linpack petaflops and ranks 42nd on the most recent Top500 list (but soon to be upgraded). up to date).

The result: “[the] The model… projects a significantly larger increase in winter precipitation over northwestern Europe by mid-century than the lower resolution configurations. For this increase, the highest resolutions of the oceanic and atmospheric models are essential … all recent IPCC climate projections using traditional models with a resolution of around 100 km could underestimate the increase in precipitation in Europe in winter and, therefore, the potential risks associated.

A comparison of the resolutions of the high resolution (medium) and low resolution (right) models, juxtaposed with observations (left). Image courtesy of the researchers.

IPCC reports are generally the gold standard for climate research and are used to guide policy around the world for years after publication. For the BCS researchers, the stark differences between their results and those published by the IPCC are grounds for serious reconsideration.

“These models present a quantitatively different future than traditional models suggest, with regions like the Gulf Stream experiencing extraordinary warming,” said Pablo Ortega, co-head of BSC’s climate forecasting group. “But more importantly, they also anticipate significant changes in the behavior of ocean circulation with implications for the weather conditions we experience in our daily lives.”

The cause of the predicted increase in precipitation, of course, was the predicted 7 ° C warming by 2050 (using a mid-20th century benchmark). “Such warming is at the root of all the changes in precipitation that we see in Europe,” said Eduardo Moreno-Chamarro, researcher in BSC’s climate prediction group and lead author of the study. “Warming pumps heat from the ocean to the atmosphere, promoting the formation of low pressure systems over the North Atlantic. These lows are ultimately responsible for the increased precipitation over northwestern Europe. “

To learn more, read the article here.

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