NextGEMS in a Nutshell

NextGEMS is building prototypes for a new generation of Earth system models to advance science, guide policy, and inform applications to support the sustainable management of our planet.

Big Picture

NextGEMS is a collaborative European project.  Funded by the EU's Horizon 2020 programme, it will tap expertise from fourteen European Nations to develop two next generation (storm-resolving) Earth-system Models. Through breakthroughs in simulation realism, these models will allow us to understand and reliably quantify how the climate will change on a global and regional scale, and how the weather, including its extreme events, will look like in the future.

Recent high-impact weather events ­ - fires in the Eastern Mediterranean, floods in central asia and in the heart of Europe - have highlighted the importance of better understanding what controls these events and how they will change with warming. The type of models being developed by NextGEMS, which resolve both the individual storm systems involved and the global circulation they are embedded in, will be key to gaining that understanding.

­- ­­Christian Jakob, Professor for Climate Modelling, Monash University, Australia

What makes storm-resolving models different?

To study climate, and project climate change, Earth System Models represent processes on land, in the atmosphere, in the oceans and sea-ice by splitting the Earth into a three-dimensional grid and solving the physical equations for each of those millions of cells. Today’s Earth System Models use grids designed to capture the horizontal, but not the vertical, motion fields of atmospheric circulations.  This shortcut, while computationally expedient, requires important processes to be neglected, or represented empirically.  By using a fifty-fold finer horizontal grid (3 km compared to the 150 km) storm resolving models are able to explicitly represent the circulations that make the storms in the atmosphere, the eddies in the ocean, and cracks in the ice, a leap in realism that is only now becoming possible thanks to advances in super-computing.


Scientific Impact

The much finer grid of NextGEMS’ models allows them to explicitly represent essential climate processes --  storms, associated with precipitating deep convection, the effects of the landscape on the atmosphere, the effects of ocean eddies on the ocean heat transport, and its interaction with ice-sheets --  that existing climate models now either ignore, or represent empirically. 

Past research has shown that the physically based approaches NextGEMS exploits are effective in reducing systematic and long-standing errors in conventional climate models, thereby creating a better -- more physical -- foundation for projections. Because NextGEMS’s storm-resolving models will increase simulation realism on many fronts, they are expected to open new scientific frontiers and shine new light on how the Earth system responds to human activities.

Aerosol-cloud interactions are still one of the largest uncertainties when it comes to assessing future climates. Conducting these state-of-the-art multi-decadal climate simulations in which aerosol and cloud processes are fully interactive is likely to elevate the science to an entirely new level, one in which we may for the first time truly demonstrate the role of aerosols and clouds in future climates at the fundamental cloud process level. The opportunities for major breakthroughs in our understanding of aerosol and cloud processes afforded by these endeavors are phenomenal.

- Sue van den Heever, Monfort Professor of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University

Application Impact

NextGEMS storm-resolving models will more realistically represent the climate system for the next 30 years. This includes weather extremes and other components of the Earth system, such as carbon, aerosols and marine nutrients. Importantly, at the same time they will also provide information on scales familiar and relevant to users.

The European Green Deal initiative Destination Earth will rely on projects like NextGEMS to deliver the next-generation, high-resolution Earth-system models to form the core of its digital twins of Earth. This convergence of Horizon Europe funded, cutting-edge research and Digital Europe funded technology capability provision defines a new step in creating value for society.

- Dr Peter Bauer, Deputy Director of Research and coordinator of ECMWF's involvement in Destination Earth

The multi-decadal simulations produced in NextGEMS will be co-designed and tested with stakeholder communities, such as renewable energy producers, coastal marine ecosystems and fisheries managers. This will increase their added value for societal applications and their ability to serve as platforms for innovation in the provision of earth-system information.

By providing citizens with more realistic, detailed and local information on how the climate and weather, including its severest events, will change, NextGEMS  will support the operationalization of the Paris Agreement and the associated ‘Green Transition’.  NextGEMS models will also serve as prototypes for Digital Twins of the Earth as envisioned by major new EU initiatives such as  Destination Earth.

It is great to see Europe’s best modelling centres combining their expertise to tackle a grand challenge of climate science.

- Christian Jakob, Professor for Climate Modelling, Monash University, Australia

To make this ambitious vision become reality we work with 26 partners across Europe and Senegal in a four year program from 2021 – 2025. Follow us on our journey and watch our NextGEMS indroductory clip here!

Back to top