Climate modelling is the simulation and prediction of climate trends. Researchers combine data on the atmosphere, oceans, land surface and ice to forecast how the planet's climate might change in the future. 

The models do this by first dividing the earth into cells. They then look at factors such as temperature, surface pressure, humidity and rainfall and calculate how they will interact in each new cell. The models repeat these calculations over and over again at set time intervals, or 'time steps'. This means that the more precise the prediction, the more time and computing power the model needs.

The vast and complicated nature of the interactions limits how precise the models are. While weather models recalculate every few minute to predict weather three days away, even supercomputers can't calculate at that level of accuracy for decades into the future. Scientists can, however, test their models' accuracy through a process called ‘hindcasting’. By using past data they can see if their models can predict current climate trends. If their model can predict weather that’s already happened, then it can be trusted to make accurate predictions of the future.

In order to prepare for climate change we need ever more precise, localised climate models that can be translated into policy. 

Lake and trees
Next generation land surface and hydrological prediction
Welsh climate manipulation experiment
18-year Welsh climate manipulation experiment receives new infrastructure - continuation of long-term climate change research
Theme for 5th Integrated Land Ecosystem-Atmosphere Processes Study (iLEAPS) to focus on understanding the impact of land-atmosphere exchanges
© NERC – Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. All rights reserved. Nadine Mitschunas
Predicting future states of climate change
Adama Bamba presenting at AMMA-2050 meeting
AMMA-2050 project meeting and stakeholder workshop
Flux tower in the Amazon rainforest
Analysing variation in vegetation productivity from rainfall or temperature changes
Clocaenog climate change experiment site
Long-term CEH climate experiment part of study
Dr Toby Marthews, a land surface modeller at CEH, speaks at the High Impact Weather conference
CEH scientists at 3-day conference