Earth System Modelling and Prediction

Model output showing the bottom of Australia and New Zealand

Developing and utilising the New Zealand Earth System Model to produce improved projections of climate change.

The focus of this programme is to assemble the first New Zealand Earth System Model (NZESM), which will sit in the heart of the Deep South Challenge work.

An Earth System Model combines the physical processes of atmospheric and oceanic circulation with the chemical and biological processes that impact the Earth system.

Earth system models inform international assessments of climate, such as the assessment reports published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Addressing limitations of international models

Developing the NZESM will mean that we no longer need to base climate projections on overseas models. This is important because due to their focus on Northern Hemisphere climate, overseas models often poorly represent some processes in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. The resulting biases can then have serious consequences for the quality of projections over Aotearoa-New Zealand.

Building on existing work and collaboration

The development of the New Zealand Earth System Model will not start from scratch. Existing models provide important building blocks that apply anywhere, and our modellers will be supported by strong collaborations with overseas partners.

One of few national Earth System Models in the world

Notably, this work will put Aotearoa-New Zealand in with the handful of other countries that run their own Earth System Models, and give us the resource and expertise to contribute to global climate modelling efforts.

Primary Contact and Science Lead

Dr Olaf Morgenstern, NIWA

Funded projects

Latest news and updates

Recruiting: Senior Communications Advisor for the Deep South Challenge based at NIWA

This is an exciting opportunity to apply your communications skills to a critical environmental science challenge facing the nation and be part of a highly regarded Communications team.

NZ Geographic: New Zealand's Next Top Model

The Deep South Challenge (DSC) is featured in a new story in New Zealand Geographic, which is available in shops and online today.

Research Highlights

Recent science highlights from the Deep South Challenge about: successful airborne measurements of sea ice; preparation of data to inform the next IPCC report; and publication of a novel method that uses machine learning to classify satellite cloud data.