We are witnessing and experiencing a climate crisis, and not just climate change, to paraphrase Al Gore. It can be disheartening to see politicians and others question the very basis of climate science, when the underlying physics has been known for decades if not longer. The motivation behind the ClimateSim project was to develop a very accessible and easy-to-use simulation tool that could be used to communicate, teach and learn the basic physics of climate change in undergraduate and high-school courses -- and perhaps in non-academic settings as well. Simulation is an important way of not only doing science but also learning science today, and climate change is a nearly perfect problem to address with simulation. The challenge was to find the right balance between modeling complexity and simulation speed for a web-based simulator, while remaining true to the science and the educational goal of the tool.
ClimateSim is an initial solution to the problem of creating an educational simulator good enough to help teach and learn the basics of climate change. It is a free web app for fast and simple climate-change simulation. ClimateSim can be used as a virtual lab in physics and environmental science courses for undergraduate and advanced high-school students. ClimateSim allows users to model scenarios of greenhouse gas emissions in the current century and simulates the first-order response of the earth system. Instructors can use ClimateSim to illustrate climate-change concepts, demonstrate dynamic relationships between climate variables, and assign simulation-based exercises for enhanced learning. It is also an appropriate and accessible tool that policymakers, journalists and others can use to get a better understanding and working knowledge of the basics of climate science.
Feecback to help improve ClimateSim as well as discussions and collaborations would all be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Under the hood:
ClimateSim is based on an emissions-driven, coupled climate-GHG cycle model. It converts a user-selected or user-defined emissions scenario into atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases over time, and then computes the earth system’s response – including the global mean surface temperature change/anomaly over time as well as latitudinal mean surface temperatures.
In addition to the temperature response, ClimateSim reports a number of other critical climate variables (such as radiative forcing, radiant flux densities, atmospheric longwave emissivity, and albedos) to help users connect the simulation output to theory and models.
ClimateSim models details such as the land/ocean carbon uptake (including climate-carbon feedback), lifetimes of non-CO2 GHGs, ice-albedo feedback, and equator-to-pole heat transport. The current 1.0 version uses an extended one-layer atmospheric model (to be expanded to a multilayer model in 2.0).