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Research Abstracts Online
January - December 2011

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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences
Department of Soil, Water, and Climate

PI: Peter K. Snyder

Expeditions in Computing: Understanding Climate Change

Climate change is the defining environmental challenge facing our planet, yet there is considerable uncertainty regarding the social and environmental impact due to the limited capabilities of existing physics-based models of the earth system. Consequently, important questions relating to food security, water resources, biodiversity, and other socio-economic issues over relevant temporal and spatial scales remain unresolved. A new and transformative approach is required to understand the potential impact of climate change. The focus of this work will be an examination of how climate change will affect extreme precipitation, temperature, and severe weather events over the central United States in the coming century. In order to determine the impact of climate change on extreme events, they use the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model forced by future climate datasets from the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). The WRF model is ideal for examining future changes in extreme precipitation events because simulations with extremely high spatial and temporal resolution can effectively resolve the physical processes that drive precipitation processes during high precipitation events. Furthermore, the WRF model is highly tuned to operate over the central U.S., where severe weather and extremes in precipitation are a common occurrence. By using the WRF model, the researchers will identify regions where severe weather and extreme precipitation events are expected to become more common with climate change.

Group Members

Keith Harding, Graduate Student
Stefan Liess, Research Associate