The challenge of our changing climate

A Victoria University of Wellington project that will improve predictions of climate change has been announced as part of the Deep South National Science Challenge.

Administered by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), the Deep South Challenge will fund six projects over four years, all of which aim to understand the role of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean in determining our climate and our future environment.

$1.4 million dollars has been allocated to Victoria University for a project led by Professor David Frame from the New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute.

“Our project will research predictions of climate out to 10 years, and likely changes in extremes in weather and climate in the future,” says Professor Frame.

“Because extremes are rare, this requires undertaking large ensembles of climate model simulations. These ensembles will be generated through the Weather@home system, a form of citizen science and a unique opportunity for participation in the project by New Zealanders.

“This will allow members of the public to learn about climate and how to predict it using models, run experiments on their own computers and watch the weather patterns develop in their own unique simulation of the Earth, or even investigate the results as they are returned.”

Professor Frame will collaborate with colleagues at NIWA, the United Kingdom Met Office, and the universities of Oxford (UK), Melbourne, and Tasmania (Australia).

The Deep South Challenge projects will begin the process of assembling the first-ever New Zealand Earth System Model (NZESM). The NZESM will be used to simulate climates under different future global greenhouse gas emissions settings, and improve the ability to anticipate possible impacts on economy, infrastructure and natural resources.

“If we’re to plan and execute sensible responses to climate change, we have to have a good understanding of how the climate works and how it is likely to change,” says Professor Frame.