While ice core drilling and geological surveys can help to gain insight into climatic variability through time, it is more difficult to foresee how the climate might be changing in the future. Climate models and projections make researchers capable of generating qualified suggestions as to how climate change will proceed and how it will impact our physical, chemical and biological systems.
Climate models are made up of complex computer-generated scenarios and mathematical descriptions that integrate much of the climatic data that is collected by monitoring stations. Greenland has monitoring stations set up at different locations in the country such as the research stations at Zackenberg and near Nuuk. Here, changes in the atmosphere, ocean, biosphere, snow and ice are monitored and attempts are made to understand how the different systems interact and how they change over time.
The Greenland Climate Research Centre contributes to the development of regional climate models for oceans, atmosphere, land and glacier-ocean interactions. The work contributes to the expansion of existing models and improving the understanding of the interplay of different processes of change. You can read more about the Climate Research Centres’ projects on climate models in Research Focus 10 here .
Climate models are important tools that help us prepare for change. The models show that the arctic region, including Greenland, will be especially affected by a changing climate and that alterations in the Greenland Ice Sheet and weather conditions here will impact processes of change in other areas of the globe. Sea level rise as a consequence of mass loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet is an example of this.
It is important to underline that climate model projections are associated with considerable uncertainty. Even with large quantities of data and a good understanding of the interaction between different systems, it can be difficult to predict how local conditions will develop, when temperatures increase and winds and ocean currents change.