Human activities are strongly influenced by the climate of the Earth and the numerous biogeochemical processes that shape our environment.
In turn, that environment is increasingly being affected by anthropogenic activities such as the burning of fossil fuels and the expansion of industry and agriculture. There is an urgent need for projections of the future states of our climate and environment to support planning at a global scale and help design adaptation or mitigation responses.
Scientists use complex computer models to project what the Earth’s climate will look like over the coming decades and to support international efforts to address global change. Traditionally these models have concentrated on the physics of climate (e.g. temperature change), but increasingly these are being expanded to become models of the Earth System, capable of simulating key physical climate and biogeochemical processes. Importantly it is not enough to represent these processes in isolation, rather they must be coupled to represent important interactions and feedbacks, for example between emissions of trace gases from the land surface and atmospheric aerosols that are linked to cloud formation