A computer model developed by researchers in the U.S. allows scientists to better capture the physical characteristics of the Great Lakes by fully resolving the hydrodynamic and climactic properties of the lakes.
The model is innovative in that it moves beyond conventional 1-D lake models used to represent two-way interactions in regional climate. For the study, Dr. Pengfei Xue, assistant professor, Great Lakes Research Centre and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Michigan Technological Univserity, et al., developed a two-way coupled 3-D climate-lake-ice-modeling system (TC-3D-GLARM).
In order to properly run the model, the team has to make use of a supercomputer at the Great Lakes Research Centre. TC-3D-GLARM overthrows previous representations by linking the five Great Lakes into one regional climate model that better represents the variability between the lakes and their collective action on climate.
Accurately representing lake-ice-atmosphere interactions in the Great Lakes is both a critical and unresolved practice for understanding the ecosystems and watersheds in the region. “Right now, our model two-way couples the atmosphere and water, as well as atmosphere and land surface, but the surface runoff has an impact on the lake that isn’t accounted for yet,” said Xue to phys.org. “By converting runoff information into river inflow, TC-3-D-GLARM will be able to provide a complete estimate of the surface water cycle.”
TC-3D-GLARM’s biggest success is significantly improving simulations of climatology and spatiotemporal variability of thermal structure and ice in the lakes, particularly in comparison to coupled, 1-D simulations.
“When we link all these components together, we get much closer to simulating an actual earth system,” said Xue. “”This kind of approach has been recognized as a critical step in the Great Lakes region that has been building over the past decade.”
For the full article on phys.org: Weather the storm: Improving Great Lakes modeling