Video: How do climate models work

  • 15 May 2012, 15:25
  • Verity Payne

We often hear about climate model projections for the future, or how climate model simulations have helped scientists explain particular climate phenomena. But how do the models actually work?

The Met Office has helpfully produced a video to answer that question. It describes how models split the earth into a 3D grid made up of horizontal and vertical boxes representing the atmosphere, land and ocean. The behaviour of oceans and gases in the atmosphere are represented by mathematical and physical equations, and are solved by supercomputers to calculate the climate in each grid-square over a series of small time steps.

The short video gives a handy overview of the basics. For more information on how climate models deal with processes too small to be modelled accurately, sources of uncertainty in climate models, and why scientists are confident that their models simulate global-scale climate features well, check out our Can we trust climate models? blog and this Yale Environment 360 article.

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