UPSCALE - Global climate modelling at 25km atmospheric resolution


"The UPSCALE project aims to increase the fidelity of global climate simulations and our understanding of weather and climate risk, by representing fundamental weather and climate processes more completely. This will test and enhance our confidence in projections of climate change, including extremes. Resolving weather features is vital if global climate models are to produce realistic simulations of mean climate, variability and extremes, particularly at regional and local scales."

Prof. Pier Luigi Vidale, project leader


The UPSCALE project was a significant step forward in computer-intensive simulation of weather and climate, made possible by the Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE) Access Committee granting substantial computing resources to a JWCRP team of researchers. UPSCALE simulations were completed in 2012, though analyses are ongoing (see recent publications and updates), and the data are available for analysis at JASMIN/CEDA. For more information, please visit the UPSCALE website.


Animated visualisation of UPSCALE simulations

Present climate animation at HIGH-resolution (25 km or N512)

Present climate animation at LOW-resolution (280 km or N48)

These animations show one full year (1986-1987) of HadGEM3-GA3.0 simulation data, output at hourly intervals. Important elements of the Earth system are represented with different colors and textures:

  • land surface background ('Blue Marble' landscape)
  • simulated snow cover and sea ice (white texture over land)
  • sea surface temperature (ocean background colours; imposed in these atmosphere-only simulations)
  • simulated clouds (white-grey)
  • simulated precipitation (light to intense; blue-red colour scale on top of clouds)
  • location of the Sun at zenith (local noon), showing the diurnal cycle (Sun icon)

These animations show the deep mid-latitudes clouds, which are embedded in the Westerly flow and organised into large-scale weather systems (e.g., around cyclones). Tropical clouds (near the Equator) are smaller in size and also less spatially organised, although the diurnal cycle of convection is visible over Amazonia and central Africa and also marked by precipitation. Weather fronts are visible in the proximity of regions with cyclonic rotation (anti-clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere), distinguishable by elongated areas of precipitation. Tropical cyclones are spawned in the vicinity of the Equator and at times develop into hurricanes or typhoons (look for the characteristic "eye" signature). Snow cover and sea ice evolve on a slower time scale, being more properly associated with the annual cycle and the progression of seasons. It is interesting to notice, however, the strong interaction of large-scale weather systems with land, depositing snow in the cold seasons, especially over high elevations.


UPSCALE in the media