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Global Climate

The earths climate is determined by the complex interaction of many physical systems including the ocean, atmosphere, and biosphere. There is a growing concern that human activities (such as increasing greenhouse gases, introducing ozone-depleting chemicals, and deforestation) could alter these interactions and significantly change our current climate. However, these concerns have been very difficult to address due to our limited understanding of each of the isolated physical systems, much less the fully coupled climate system.

Performing realistic computer simulations of the global ocean is difficult because the ocean contains both relatively small spatial scales (tens of kilometers for energetic eddies) and long time scales (many centuries for the deep ocean circulation). The ocean general circulation model (OGCM), called POP (Parallel Ocean Program) [Dukowicz et al, 1993] [Smith et al, 1992], was developed to take advantage of parallel computer architectures and to perform the highest resolution global ocean simulations ever undertaken.

POP is a descendant of the Bryan-Cox OGCM which has been successful in simulating a wide range of ocean flows. The earlier model has been substantially improved and adapted for use with massively parallel computers. Improvements include a surface-pressure formulation that allows a much more realistic representation of land masses and ocean-bottom topography, an implicit free-surface technique that lets the air-sea interface evolve freely [Dukowicz, 1994], and the ability to use any locally orthogonal horizontal grid which easily allows the Arctic ocean to be included in simulations without the problems associated with the convergence at the North Pole.

High-resolution simulations, using POP, of the global ocean on 512 nodes of the Thinking Machines CM-5 computer at Los Alamos gives a horizontal resolution from 30 km near the equator to 7 km at the poles. Estimates of the true atmospheric winds from 1985 to 1994 are used to force the model.


Los Alamos Global Climate Projects
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Questions? Contact us!
This is from "The Legacy and Future of CFD at Los Alamos" (LAUR#LA-UR-1426)(365Kb pdf file)


 

 

 

 

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