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The Coupled Climate System and Climate Change

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Session Description: 

Overview & Relevance:
Current estimates of future global change rely on coupled models of the climate system. These models are both a measure of our level of understanding of coupled processes occurring in nature, and of our ability to simulate with computer models the possible changes in these processes due to increased CO2 and trace gases. Central to coupled models is air-sea interaction, but processes involving the cryosphere, biosphere, atmospheric chemistry and land surface are also intimately involved. Results from such models are extensively used by the climate impacts community, and eventually interpreted and passed along to policy makers (e.g. the IPCC process).


This session addressed global change in the coupled climate system via results from component models, coupled models, observations, and impact studies. Our goal was to identify connections and interfaces between disciplines and areas of study in the coupled climate system. Some examples of these connection and interfaces include: atmosphere-biosphere/land, atmosphere-cryosphere, oceans-cyrosphere, atmosphere-oceans, oceans-chemistry, atmosphere-clouds, atmosphere-chemistry, and synthesis of components. Participants explored the various issues relating to coupled modeling and how results from those models are applied.

Researchers from a number of disciplines involved with coupled modeling as well as representatives from the climate impacts community who apply the results from coupled models, were invited to present results and outline issues of concern from their respective areas of expertise. The intent on a general level was for participants to gain greater understanding of the uses relevant to the various disciplines that are involved with coupled models and global change via presentations and discussion sessions. On a more technical level, mini-sessions were organized to provide the opportunity for participants from similar research specialties to address and exchange information on aspects of their work in greater detail.

• Observed climate Change Signals
• El Nino-Southern Oscillation
• Role of Ocean (e.g. thermohaline circulation)
• Role of the Cryosphere (e.g. sea ice processes)
• Role of the Bioshpere (e.g. deforestation)
• Role of Atmospheric Chemistry (e.g. Biogeochemical cycles)
• Role of the Land Surface Processes (e.g. surface hydrology)
• Low-Frequency Variability of the Climate System
• Climate Impact Applications
• Policy formation from Coupled Model Results

Workshop Topic (s): 
  • Atmospheric Composition
  • Carbon Cycle
  • Climate Variability and Change (including Climate Modeling)
  • Land-Use/Land-Cover Change
  • Water Cycle