MAGICCLOGOv7_onlyearth2_400pngBy Claire

As you hopefully know by now, since I’ve written about it a few times already, I am attempting to supplement my PhD with some climate modelling. So far, I’ve had various levels of success, due mainly to the complexities of running a model in its native language – which isn’t my native language.

Well, thanks to Meinshausen and others (see the paper here), climate modelling now comes in a user friendly online GUI! Meet MAGIC – The ‘Model for the Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Induced Climate Change’.

Firstly, I should point out that it’s not actually a complete climate model, but rather, just a carbon cycle model (i.e. a climate model in a nutshell – hence the awesome logo shown above). It’s a very simplified simulation of the global climate, driven by a range of carbon emissions scenarios. Essentially, you can choose from a list of different emissions scenarios and run the model to see its impact on things like global temperature, greenhouse gas forcings and overall greenhouse gas concentrations.

Step 1: Choose your emissions scenario
Step 1: Choose your emissions scenario

The online interface is pretty easy to use and you don’t need to have a great understanding of what’s going on to have a play around. Firstly, you select the emissions scenario you’d like to use to run the model. These range from the optimistic (eg RCP3PD or AIB), where emissions are curbed instantly and begin to decline, to WHAT ON EARTH HAVE WE DONE?!?! (e.g. RCP85), where we try to turn Earth in to Venus.

Next, you select a standard or probabilistic run – basically standard runs the scenario once, while probabilistic runs it numerous times to produce statistics on the outcome.

Step 2: Select standard or probabilistic run Step 3: Choose your Change Climate Parameter (to run the model to mirror a particular climate model) Step 4: Choose your Carbon Cycle Settings (again, to mimic a particular climate model)
Step 2: Select standard or probabilistic run
Step 3: Choose your Change Climate Parameter (to run the model to mirror a particular climate model)
Step 4: Choose your Carbon Cycle Settings (again, to mimic a particular climate model)

Then you get to select the “Change Climate Parameter” and “Carbon Cycle Settings”. These options allow you to run the model according to the physics of different established climate models, just like you were running those models directly. Of course, it’s just a close approximation, but it gives you an idea of how the different models are built to deal with the carbon cycle. If you’re unsure of what to select, there are default settings you can use.

Baanaa! Your model run output appears, ready to be plotted up.
Baanaa! Your model run output appears, ready to be plotted up.

Once you’re happy with the different settings, hitting next will run the model! If you’ve chosen to use the standard model run, the results appear almost instantaneously – otherwise it may take a few minutes to run. Now that you have your output, you can plot up the different variables and see what you’ve produced. You can also go back to the start and run different setups to see what difference they each make to the output.

Congratulations! You’re now a climate modeller!

If you’d like to learn more about how the model actually works, there is a great wiki page you can click through. Otherwise, just have fun playing around with the online interface.