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Communications of the ACM

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New Tool Clears the Air on Cloud Simulations


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Clouds and mountaintop

Credit: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers and international collaborators have developed the Cloud-Feedback-Model Intercomparison Project Observation Simulator Package (COSP), which will enable scientists to better represent clouds observed in the sky in climate models.

Accurately representing clouds is difficult for climate models because of their spatial resolution limitations. Global climate models typically have a 100-kilometer resolution while meteorological models have a 20-kilometer range, but the scale needs to be in the 500-meter resolution to 1-kilometer range to accurately represent clouds as seen in satellite measurements.

COSP facilitates the apples-to-apples comparison between clouds simulated in a climate model and the cloud properties retrieved from satellites. "Our tool will better connect with what the satellites observe--how many clouds, their levels, and the reflectivity," says LLNL's Stephen Klein. "The COSP eliminates significant ambiguities in the direct comparison of model simulations with satellite retrievals."

Most of the major models for climate and weather prediction are now using the tool.

From Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
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