nextGEMS is currently simulating the climate at resolutions never seen before to improve two existing models: ICON and IFS. At the moment, the collaborative project funded by the European Union is entering into its application phase. Here, the efforts are focused in the preparation of the high resolution climate simulations. The advancement of these simulations has been possible through three hackathons organized in different parts of Europe, where the community and a diverse range of experts were able to cooperate together.

Since the project is directed towards advancing climate models to an unprecedented level of granularity or detail, scientists have already been surprised by what they are able to see through storm-resolving models, says Managing Director of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology Bjorn Stevens. Phenomena like how the precipitation develops over the Pacific Ocean; how tropical storms lead the ocean to pulsate; or the ways land and the deep soil equilibrate, are some of the discoveries Stevens highlights.

Furthermore, an important part of the current stage of nextGEMS is the development of new workflows that will allow the team to deal with the enormous amount of data the models generate. The progress currently being done within that aspect of the project has allowed nextGEMS to build up an energetic and increasing new community, according to Bjorn Stevens.

If you are interested in finding out more details about what nextGEMS is doing at the moment, don’t forget to check out our interview with Bjorn Stevens!

nextGEMS celebrates its 2nd anniversary.

During the afternoon of September 6th of 2023, 21 participants gathered online to celebrate the second anniversary of the European project nextGEMS. The session started at 3:30pm and the project members started the session by playing two videos: one dedicated to the advancements that have been made throughout the year and another remembering the third cycle of the project’s hackathon in Madrid earlier this year.

NextGEMS is a project funded by the European Union that is currently moving to its application phase. In other words, within the next year, the activities derived from nextGEMS will aim to apply all what was learned in the previous two years, during the development phase. Furthermore, a review report for the European Commission is on its way to being delivered, project coordinator Heike Konow said at the meeting.

The online celebration served as a space where participants were able to discuss new ideas; provide feedback; explain their expectations for the incoming year; and talk about the highlights of the project. One of the main improvements discussed among participants was related to enhancing the communication between developers and people analysing the models.

Finally, the celebration gathering ended with the project team thanking everyone involved in nextGEMS within the last two years. As a way to provide feedback and suggestions more easily, the team provided an online Whiteboard, where the community can continue to write – anonymously if they may – their comments.

nextGEMS 1st anniversary

Today, the first of September 2022, marks the One-year anniversary of nextGEMS! On this occasion we have held a seminar to look back into this first year. We have collected quite a diverse list of accomplishments: around 80 nextGEMS members to date, 2 hackathons, as well as 2 little-hackathons, two babies and a third one on it’s way within our nextGEMS community, over 600 followers on Twitter, 16 videos and 1 NextCalendArt.
Around 70 participants joined the online session, being welcomed by Bjorn Stevens and Irina Sandu with an insight into the project and a discussion on the suprises, bumps and hurdles of the past year. They were followed by the updates and perspectives from the four project themes: Storms&Radiation, Storms&Land, Storms&Ocean and Storms&Society.

Even when struggling with technicalities and a challenging workflow, it is always fun to tackle these hurdles within the nextGEMS community, to encounter bumps and to learn from going over them. This anniversary seminar has shown how projects such as nextGEMS contribute to the advancement of climate science through the improvement of modelling performances in ICON and IFS (see also our Blogposts).

A few friendly faces joining the 1st anniversary seminar.

We are also expecting changes in the year to come. Not only did the project office get expanded but a sister project is born as well: the WarmWorld project – Better | Faster | Easier is joining the efforts of nextGEMS. In addition, our weekly Office Hours are changing format and are now Storms&Science, with our subthemes organizing theme-related science talks and discussions.

The preparation for our Cycle 3 hackathon is already at full speed. Following the spirit of the Cycle 2 hackathon, we will come together once again in Madrid at the end of May 2023 and round up the model development phase, before the application phase starts.

by Thomas Rackow*, Daniel Klocke**, and the MPI-M and ECMWF-AWI modelling teams***

The nextGEMS model development is structured into simulation cycles. Each simulation cycle is followed by a hackathon, where simulation results are evaluated extensively by the nextGEMS community. The first nextGEMS hackathon in Berlin in October 2021 analysed the very first simulations. Based on the results, the two models participating in the project, IFS and ICON, were updated significantly for the cycle 2 simulations. These simulations where just completed and the unique datasets are waiting for the community to analyse them at the upcoming hackathon at the end of June. 
In case of IFS, besides updates to the atmospheric model component (read more here) and a more realistic treatment of snow, another update has been the use of a higher-resolution ocean that resolves eddies over large parts of the globe. Eddies in the ocean impact exchanges of energy and matter across the ocean-atmosphere interface, they transport heat both horizontally and vertically, and they were shown to alter projections of global climate in a warming world.

Figure 1: Ocean resolution used in the IFS-FESOM simulations for Cycle 2. The grid points of the NG5 configuration are concentrated in higher latitudes in order to resolve ocean eddies over larger areas of the globe compared to a more homogeneous distribution of grid points.

The operational high-resolution 9km forecasts at ECMWF include an ocean that applies a ¼ degree resolution (about 25km at the equator). While many coupled effects such as the atmospheric and oceanographic interaction during tropical cyclone conditions (Mogensen et al. 2017) can be realistically simulated at this resolution, ocean eddies are still only ‘permitted’ in mid-latitudes compared to the even coarser 1 degree standard-resolution climate models. This is far from the goal to explicitly resolve mesoscale ocean eddies all around the globe and is a potential source of many long-standing biases in climate models. Importantly, mesoscale features can also affect the predictability of European weather downstream of the Gulf Stream area.

A recent development for the IFS Cycle 2 simulations is a nextGEMS grid (NG5) for FESOM2, which was designed to be of equivalent size to the ICON-5km ocean grid with about 7.5 million surface nodes (Figure 1). Making use of the multi-resolution capability of FESOM2, relatively more surface nodes were concentrated in higher latitudes in order to extend the area where eddies are resolved – from the mid-latitudes into higher latitudes. Similar to the initialization strategy in ICON, the ocean grid has been spun up for several years with ERA5 forcing until 20 January 2020, the common starting point of the nextGEMS simulations, before being coupled to IFS. 

Early preliminary analyses of Cycle 2 compare rather well to the ERA5 reanalysis, OSI-SAF, and observational data, such as a long 40-day forecast of sea ice concentration evolution (Figure 2). We are looking very much forward to the next Hackathon in Vienna later this month where in-depth analyses from all project partners might reveal new surprises – both in terms of weaknesses but also in terms of novel strengths that only this new generation of climate models can provide.

Figure 2: 40-day forecast of sea ice concentration in the coupled IFS-FESOM Cycle 2 simulation with 2.5km IFS and FESOM2-NG5 (left), compared to data from OSI SAF (right). (figure kindly provided by Lorenzo Zampieri, NCAR,

* Scientist at ECMWF

** Model development at MPI-M
*** Special thanks to all participants of the 1st nextGEMS hackathon

With the upgrade and relaunch of our website we also move to a new project design and community identity.

The new logo is colored in blue linking to our blue planet Earth. The rhombs emobdy gems (next Generation Earth Modeling Systems), beginning with four gems representing the four project themes whose roots extend through work packages up to the individual project members. Through a sencond lense, this refinement from four gems to many small ones equally symbolizes the grid refinement towards km- and storm-resolving simulations. In addition, the arrangement of the four main gems into one big gem nicely depicts the mutual interaction between our research themes and the necessity of all components to interact for a realistic representation of our Earth system.

With this renewed design, our community can identify itself with the brand nextGEMS even more.


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