News

The Earth Machine

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  27 Jul 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6400, pp. 344-347
DOI: 10.1126/science.361.6400.344

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution

Summary

This summer, an academic consortium led by Tapio Schneider, a German-born climate dynamicist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, and backed by prominent technology philanthropists, including Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, will launch an ambitious project to create a new climate model. Their upstart project seeks to leverage breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, satellite imaging, and high-resolution simulation to change how climate models render small-scale phenomena, such as sea ice and cloud formation, that have long bedeviled efforts to forecast climate. A focus will be on the major source of uncertainty in current models: the decks of stratocumulus clouds that form off coastlines and populate the trade winds. A shift in their extent by just a few percentage points could turn the global thermostat up or down by a couple of degrees or more within this century—and current models can't predict which way they will go.