Modelers Community of Practice

Enhancing understanding of the integrated Arctic system through the use of regional and global earth system models.

Scope of Activities

Sonar data

Photo by Chantelle Rose (PolarTREC 2011), Courtesy of ARCUS

The Modeling Sub-team (MST), first created under Arctic Research Plan 2013-2017 as the Modeling Collaboration Team, will continue operations under Arctic Research Plan 2017-2021. As a Sub-team of the Environmental Intelligence Collaboration Team, MST's scope of activities will include implementation of Research Objectives and Performance Elements related to modeling under Research Goal 9. Learn more about the Environmental Intelligence Collaboration Team here

Team Leaders

Renu Joseph

Richard Cullather
Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, Univ. Maryland at College Park (Website)

Wilbert Weijer
Los Alamos National Laboratory (Website)

Deliverables from the Arctic Research Plan

2.1 Advance understanding of Arctic amplification and the associated connections with lower latitudes.

  • 2.1.1 Provide funding opportunities for investigator-driven modeling and observational studies that focus on the following aspects of Arctic Amplification: (1) ice-albedo feedback; (2) impacts of atmospheric and oceanic circulation on Arctic Amplification; and (3) transport of heat, moisture, and pollutants between Arctic and lower latitudes. Share knowledge and synthesize results arising from these studies.

4.2 Update and improve the “Statewide Threat Assessment: Identification of Threats from Erosion, Flooding, and Thawing Permafrost in Remote Alaska Communities.”

  • 4.2.1 Undertake a study to identify the top 10 threats/hazards to communities and critical remote state and Federal government infrastructure in the state of Alaska that should be included in the Statewide Threat Assessment. This might include coastal and river erosion, flooding, thawing permafrost, and changes in the seasonal snowpack.
  • 4.2.2 Upon completion of 4.2.1, establish a data collection and collation plan to include mechanisms to collect threat/hazard data that may not be readily available.

MOMP 1 Coordinate activities and communities of practice that bring together Arctic modeling, observing, monitoring, and prediction to advance Arctic research.

  • MOMP 1.2 Support development of metrics that measure key Arctic processes and implementation of these metrics in benchmarking packages to facilitate model validation against observations.
  • MOMP 1.4 Support ongoing work, such as observing system experiments (OSEs), to quantify the current and potential value of Arctic ocean, atmosphere, sea ice, and land observations for initialized predictions spanning daily to decadal timescales.

MOMP 2 Support assessment, gaps analysis, and intercomparisons to understand observational and modeling needs in Arctic research.

  • MOMP 2.4 Conduct workshops to identify Arctic modeling needs and priorities across research and operational modeling communities.

PILR 2 Engage Arctic communities and individuals in research in a way that is meaningful to them.

  • PILR 2.3 Request that each Priority Area Collaboration Team host regular meetings that meaningfully engage with Indigenous leaders, groups, and/or communities. This includes developing a list of contacts to support requests for engagement or tracking engagement with Indigenous participation.
  • PILR 2.4 Analyze and develop a report on broader impacts of science/research teams on Indigenous health and resilience.

PILR 3 Develop guidance for agencies to consistently apply participatory research and Indigenous leadership in research.

  • PILR 3.1 Co-define “Indigenous leadership in research” with Tribes, Indigenous organizations, and Federal agencies; and integrate into the Principles for Conducting Research in the Arctic and its training toolkit and best practices documents.
  • PILR 3.2 Hold interagency meetings/workshops to identify methods to streamline contracting/agreements and compensation processes to make co-stewardship and co-production in research more equitable and achievable.
  • PILR 3.3 Convene discussions to identify mechanisms to foster equitable pathways for Indigenous leadership in research.
  • PILR 3.5 Ensure consistent terminology for Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Indigenous Knowledge, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, and Local Knowledge for IARPC. Suggest primary language for IARPC be Indigenous Knowledge.


Chlorophyll data

Image courtesy of NASA

Scientific Achievements

Progress made on ISMIP6 (Ice Sheet Model Intercomparison Project) activities (Performance Element 9.3.6) was reported during a joint webinar with the GSLCT. ISMIP6 is the Ice Sheet Model Intercomparison effort that focuses on understanding the role of melting ice-sheets in sea-level change. There are two components to ISMIP6. One focuses the coupled ice-sheet-climate-system, while the other on the stand-alone ice-sheet models. Many models have already participated in the stand-alone ice-sheet model intercomparison that highlights challenges and uncertainties associated with initialization. Three of the US based ice-sheet models used in that effort were highlighted as part of the webinar. Preparation is currently underway at two of the US modeling centers funded by NASA, NSF, and DOE to get the models ready for the coupled ISMIP6 experiments.

MST scientists have participated in a CLIVAR-led workshop on Arctic Midlatitude (Performance Element 9.2.1) connections and findings from the workshop were summarized and discussed as part of an MST webinar. To address the uncertainties of the underlying mechanisms, a set of coordinated modeling experiments have been proposed by the scientific community.

Two sets of presentations at two independent MST meetings focused on enhancing understanding of processes and their interactions and feedbacks within the Arctic System (Performance Element 9.2.3). The first focused on activities related to the MOSAiC field campaign looking at atmospheric and sea-ice interactions and the second focused on understanding the carbon cycle in the terrestrial system in high-latitudes. Both sets of presentations had an interagency flavor. The focus on the MOSAiC campaign brought in DOE, NSF, and ONR funded scientists and the focus on carbon cycle juxtaposed DOE and NASA modeling activities related to the NGEE-Arctic and the ABoVE field campaigns.

Collaboration Between Federal Agencies and the Research Community

The first MST meeting was a joint webinar between MST and GSLCT focusing on ISMIP6. The webinar highlighted the interagency contribution to CMIP6 in that involved NASA, DOE, and University scientists. The 5th MST webinar focused on the carbon cycle and modelers involved in the NASA ABOVE and DOE NGEE Arctic efforts presented activities. Having two similar, but complementary activities funded by two agencies highlighted common scientific challenges faced by the science teams. For instance, the ISMIP6 webinar indicated that all the modeling teams had similar concerns with regards to initialization of the models, while the webinar on terrestrial carbon uncertainties highlighted the challenges for modeling across a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. These can enhance collaboration among scientists and agencies.

Stakeholder Engagement

Stakeholders in the MST team are primarily the research community. While planning for presentation at the various MST meetings, MST team leaders made sure that scientists funded by at least two agencies presented work (e.g., the ISMIP6 GSCT-MST meeting, the NGEE-ABOVE carbon MST meeting). This juxtaposing of presentations from different agencies helps reinforce similar goals and issues of the scientific community. Team leadership hopes that synergies will also be identified in the future.

Plans for 2018

For FY2018 meetings, the MST will continue to address one Performance Element per month. To enhance agency collaboration and participation, as appropriate, team leadership also plan to hold short planning sessions with other relevant Federal funding managers to discuss and plan for the upcoming meetings. We anticipate that this focus will increase discussion and interest of the funding program managers in this topic and will enable us to conduct the following meetings incorporating the ideas of the other agencies. Team leadership will also try to enhance collaboration across other IARPC collaboration teams in the process.

2017 Performance Element Reporting Log (9.2.1-9.3.6)

2017 Modeling Collaboration Sub-team Annual Report

2018 Performance Element Reporting Log