Computer Simulations on Climate Change: Four to Try

15 October 2009 | News story

We need a way to see the future without waiting for it to arrive. And it turns out that simulation models are very good at helping us do that. Simulations like the four shown here are useful tools for awareness-raising and communications efforts on climate change. From CEC Steering Committee member Dominic Stucker of the Sustainability Institute.
 

Responding to climate change requires us to think clearly about the future. And one of the things we know about climate is that the economic, atmospheric, and social systems that drive the climate defy most human intuition.

So we need a way to see the future without waiting for it to arrive. And it turns out that simulation models are very good at helping us do that.

Project partners, including the Sustainability Institute, Ventana Systems, and MIT, are building a set of simulators with engaging interfaces and compelling output displays. These sims will allow learners, step by step, to deepen their understanding of climate dynamics, from the most rudimentary “carbon accounting” to progressively more complex explorations of strategic options for reducing emissions and their likely effects. C-ROADS is our best example.
 

C-LEARN is the freeware, online, 3-region version of C-ROADS. The Climate Rapid Overview and Decision-support Simulator is a policy-maker-oriented climate simulator that has undergone scientific review and is being used in support of international climate change negotiations.

Climate Momentum SImulation allows users to quickly compare the resulting sea level rise, temperature change, atmospheric CO2, and global CO2 emissions from six predetermined scenarios. This sim was designed by Drew Jones of Sustainability Institute and Nicholas Owens of Booksmuggler using output from C-ROADS.

Bathtub is an animated simulation of the global carbon system that is great for helping people explore the relationship between carbon emissions and atmospheric CO2. What happens if we cap global carbon dioxide emissions at current levels? Built with a team from Schlumberger.

MIT Green House Gas Simulator is a more advanced animated simulator that, like the one above, uses the bathtub metaphor but explores more factors and more complexity. Dr. John Sterman led its creation.

For more information, contact Climate Interactive >>