Modeling Sub-team

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
NASA (Website)

Wilbert Weijer
Los Alamos National Laboratory (Website)

Performance elements from the Arctic research plan

9.2 Advance understanding of the Arctic System by using global and regional models with detailed Arctic processes to understand feedbacks and interactions within the components of the Arctic system and with the climate system as a whole.

  • 9.2.1 In coordination with efforts described under the Atmosphere Goal, support and coordinate research to advance understanding of the connections between the Arctic and mid-latitude weather patterns and vice-versa.
  • 9.2.2 Support and coordinate research to enhance the understanding of connections between Arctic and global ocean circulation.
  • 9.2.3 Enhance understanding of processes and their interactions and feedbacks within the Arctic System itself, including the complex relationships between the ocean, sea ice, land, and atmosphere; impacts of snow on ice; interactions between Arctic clouds and aerosols; effects of thermal forcing of sea ice; changes in ocean stratification; stratosphere-troposphere interactions; and radiative exchanges of energy throughout the system.
  • 9.2.4 Conduct a survey and identify investigator-driven modeling projects designed to understand important local and global Arctic System feedbacks.

9.3 Enhance climate prediction capabilities for the Arctic system from sub-seasonal to decadal timescales and climate projection capabilities up to centennial timescales by focusing on improving earth system models and their interactions, and assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the various coupled regional arctic and earth system models by conducting intercomparison and model evaluations.

  • 9.3.1. Support the configuration and the initial development of a global variable resolution model with very high resolution in the Arctic that will allow high-resolution interactions within the Arctic System and interactions between the Arctic and mid-latitudes
  • 9.3.2 Support model development activities in global earth system models focusing on increased resolution, better coupling techniques, and inclusion of new process models in the Arctic for improved predictions, projections, and better representation of extreme events. In addition to developing models for CMIP6, this will include routine global ocean data assimilation capabilities linked to Global Ocean Observing System observations.
  • 9.3.3 Foster interactions between the Arctic Testbed and Environmental Modeling Center’s weather modeling efforts to facilitate the improvement of model guidance at higher latitudes.
  • 9.3.4 Support model development of Regional Arctic System Models focusing on improved resolution, better coupling, inclusion of new process models, and better assimilation techniques for improved seasonal predictions.
  • 9.3.5 Support Systematic Improvements to Reanalyses of the Arctic (SIRTA) to address the need for improved models of Arctic weather, sea ice, glaciers, ecosystems, and other components of the Arctic System.
  • 9.3.6 Coordinate and support the ISMIP6 efforts in the U.S. by integrating ice- sheet models into coupled climate and earth system models to both: (1) improve sea level projections due to changes in the cryosphere; and (2) enhance scientific understanding of the cryosphere in a changing climate.


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

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