Floods and droughts are two of the costliest perils, with existing climate projections anticipating that future hazards will increase in severity.
Yet, current global climate models struggle to represent precipitation and related extreme events, producing substantial biases in both space and time. Although an essential resource, the consequences of our inability to model precipitation within these models are extensive, causing complications in our efforts to assess and adapt to climate change.
Today, nine* of the world’s leading climate scientists, including Fathom co-founder and Chair Professor Paul Bates, call for a major international investment to kickstart the development of the next generation of climate models. These kilometre-scale models will answer fundamental questions about the future of water and the scale of the climate risks we face.
“This is urgent’ says Tim Palmer, Research Professor in Climate Physics at the University of Oxford. “What we need now is a ‘Mission to Planet Earth’ that addresses the dangers that climate change poses and is resourced accordingly.”
Their call to arms comes as part of a new paper published today in Nature Climate Change. The research, which investigates the need and feasibility of hyper-resolution models, estimates that it will require US$250 million per year in investment.
“Considering the immensity of the challenge, the costs are modest. We estimate an annual investment of £250M for a dedicated Exascale facility. This pales into insignificance against climate-related losses, even today.” Explains Professor Paul Bates, leading hydrologist and co-author. “This investment represents about 0.1% of the estimated annual costs of hydrological extremes, not counting for the lost lives, and these costs will only rise as climate change continues to bite.”
Funding will enable organisers to create and resource a federated group of leading modelling centres that would provide reliable and regularly updated predictions of evolving physical climate risk. These predictions will be an invaluable resource for the global community and inform future analysis on necessary measures to adapt to and mitigate climate change.
1 Julia Slingo, Cabot Institute. 2 Paul Bates, University of Bristol and Fathom. 3 Peter Bauer, European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. 4 Stephen Belcher, Met Office. 5 Tim Palmer, University of Oxford. 6 Graeme Stephens, Jet Propulsion Laboratory and California Institute of Technology. 7 Bjorn Stevens, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology. 8 Thomas Stocker, Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern. 9 Georg Teutsch, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research.