Climate Change

Climate Predictions and Modeling

In the southwest proportion of the United States, precipitation, water storage, and water transport determines the sustainability of both natural ecosystems and human-inhabited environments including agricultural landscapes. Throughout the 20th century the most detrimental and costly environmental threats were from either from drought or from severe storms and flooding. As the human population grows the environmental threats from climate variability and change become more acute. Developing the capacity to anticipate and plan for climate variability and change is a necessity.

Mitigation and planning for natural as well as man-influenced hydrologic changes across the southwest requires the development of better estimates for how the climate system will behave in the coming decades (both the anthropogenic forcing as well as the natural decadal-scale variability). The USCEI, in partnership with colleagues from institutions across the west, has established an interdisciplinary research enterprise to investigate the predictability of decadal-scale hydroclimate variability and its impacts on the natural environment over the western U.S. and surrounding Pacific Islands.

Researchers at USC are conducting model-data experiments that take advantage of state-of-the-art community climate models in order to investigate the predictability of hydroclimate variability. Using USC's high performance computers, the climate scientists are conducting model simulations that attempt to reconstruct the atmosphere response to changes in sea surface temperatures spanning the past several centuries. Ocean temperatures are considered one of the primary influences on atmospheric variability at these time scales. However, in order to validate the model experiments and to assess the accuracy of these simulations, the researchers will utilize an extended observational database of hydrologic variable collected from sites (archives) across the southwestern U.S. This extended simulation technique is necessitated by the shortness of instrumental record.


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