Modeling climate risk where it hits home Mark Dwortzan | MIT Joint Program Thursday, December 13, 2018

Long-term assessment of likely regional and local climate impacts is critical to enabling municipalities, businesses and regional economies to prepare for potentially damaging and costly effects of climate change—from prolonged droughts to more frequent and intense extreme events such as major storms and heatwaves. But the tools most commonly used to project future climate impacts, Earth-system models (ESMs), are not up to the task. ESMs are too computationally time-consuming and expensive to run at sufficient resolution to provide the needed local and regional detail.

To that end, a new MIT-led study in the journal Earth and Space Science used a regional climate model of the Northeastern United States to “downscale” middle and end-of-century climate projections of an ESM under a high-impact emissions scenario to a horizontal resolution of three kilometers.