The impacts of climate change are far reaching, affecting whole ecosystems and the invaluable services provided by them, such as clean water and air, abundant food and a rich biodiversity.

Our quantitative information on climate change comes from global models of the Earth’s climate. Global climate models are mathematical representations of the interactions between the atmosphere, oceans, land surface, ice, and the sun. Since this is clearly a very complex task, these models are built to estimate trends rather than events. For example, a climate model can tell you it will become wetter in future winters, but it can't tell you how much rain you will receive on any specific day. However, understanding these trends still provides important information on the impacts of climate change on ecosystem services.

The NE-RESM takes advantage of the climate data provided by the ISI-MIP project, which provides data from multiple climate models formatted for use in impacts studies. These datasets are used as inputs for the NE-RESM component models, which will allow project researchers to quantify the impacts of climate change on the region’s water cycle, land and aquatic ecosystems, energy systems and economy.

The NE-RESM also takes advantage of cutting-edge, dynamic downscaling modeling to better understand the unique regional impacts of future climate change on the Northeast. The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model is a mathematical model that is used to represent very fine-scale, detailed processes in the atmosphere that cannot be included in global climate models. The WRF model is being used for future time-slices to better understand how the region’s complex coastline, topography and urban areas will impact regional climate under different conditions of global climate change.

Cumulus Clouds (image courtesy of Arun Kulshreshtha).

The increase in torrential rainstorms in the region that has been predicted by climate models may significantly impact the region's infrastructure. Photo of August 10, 2006 rainstorm in Queens, NY (image courtesy of Chris Johannesen).