Project Concept

The central idea of NextGEMS is to develop a truly new generation of storm-resolving Earth-system Models (SR-ESMs) and use these to help fill gaps in our understanding of how the Earth system works, how climate will change, and the impacts to be expected from these changes.

The present generation of Earth-system Models rests on theoretical foundations developed fifty years ago. A great deal has been learned from such models as they have steadily expanded upon and improved their representation of the Earth system. Nonetheless, many large and systematic biases have proven recalcitrant, calling into question some of the basic assumptions adopted by these types of models.

Advances in computing make it possible to begin questioning such assumptions, by developing a new type of Earth-system models that no longer makes this assumption.

NextGEMS aims to bring into being such models by proposing (O1) to lead the development of the two European prototype SR-ESMs participating in the DYAMOND initiatives, ICON from MPI-M and IFS from ECMWF, into SR-ESMs, to apply them to some of the biggest knowledge gaps in climate science (O2) and show their added value for societal applications and as a new basis for innovation (O3) across Europe. As a European project NextGEMS will accelerate and expand efforts at individual institutes to develop this next generation of Earth-system models, will involve a broader scientific community in their development and their application to fill important knowledge gaps, and at the same time will help align their developments with important application sectors and the broader goals of the European Commission (e.g., Destination Earth).

Project Methodology

NextGEMS is actually quite a simple project that aims to first build a new type of model, and then use it to solve problems. This explains the two phases (Development and Application) of the project, and how they pace activities by expert communities associated with specific Earth-system couplings (our four themes). Fig. 2 further details how in the Development Phase NextGEMS plans for three model development cycles. The first cycle will analyze year-long 5 km mesh simulations performed as part of the DYAMOND-Winter intercomparison. Successive cycles will work to improve and optimize the model configuration and workflow based on the analysis of previous cycles, and at the same time evolve the resolution and length of the simulations toward their production target. This phase is strongly aligned with objective O1. The Application Phase is identified with the initiation of production (multi-decadal) simulations around Month 24. It gives emphasis to the application of the SR-ESMs, as well as future model developments for sub storm-resolving processes or for incorporating additional Earth-system components, and thus (see also Fig. 1) is more closely aligned with objective O2. Activities in this phase require a lesser degree of coordination, but will benefit from bandwidth established within the project during the Development Phase. Objective O3 activities are initiated in the Development Phase, but consummated in the Application phase.

The following Figure nicely illustrates the workflow including modern structural elements such as Hackathons and Scrums.


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