Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 21:21 EDT
Distribution of Water Vapor in Atmosphere
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Distribution of Water Vapor in Atmosphere

July 14, 2010
This image captures the distribution of water vapor in the atmosphere at one moment in time during a climate simulation by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)-based Community Climate System Model (CCSM). Climate models rely on supercomputers to simulate the complexities of past, present or future climate. The models track the evolution of temperature, moisture, pressure and wind speed at thousands of points around the globe. Experiments may examine changes over years, decades or centuries, and the entire task can take weeks or months of processing time on a supercomputer.

Created in 1983 by NCAR, CCSM is a supercomputer-based system used to model Earth's climate and to project global temperature rise in coming decades. The freely available global atmosphere model is available for use by the wider climate research community. Using CCSM, scientists can anticipate the impact of such events as continued carbon dioxide emissions or volcanic eruptions on global temperatures. As the model becomes more refined, they will be able to determine the probability that certain regions in coming decades will face a warmer climate or more intense precipitation events. CCSM is also an important tool for paleoclimatologists who want to glean insights into ice ages and other major climate events in the past.

CCSM is sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Administration of the CCSM is maintained by the Climate and Global Dynamics Division (CGD) at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). To learn more, visit the CCSM Web site. For more information about NCAR, visit the facility's Web site. (Date of Image: unknown)