kmMountains (Mountain Climate at the Kilometre-Scale Resolution)


Mountains are playing a major role in shaping the weather and climate of the world. They are among the most sensitive ecosystems to climate change and are experiencing more rapid changes in temperature than environments at lower elevations. However, the understanding of mountain climate and how it will change with further warming of the atmosphere is still very limited due to the sparse observational network and due to the coarse resolution of current climate models (12-50 kilometres in regional and >50 kilometres in global climate models), which are not able to properly represent the complex mountainous orography and processes related to them.

In this project, we will use the COSMO climate model (COSMO-CLM) that is capable of using Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) thus providing a significant performance increase in comparison to its standard version, which runs on CPUs. The use of this model will enable us to assess the mountain climate at kilometre-scale resolution. The simulations will be performed with a horizontal grid spacing of 2.2 and 1.1 km over two mountainous regions for multi-decadal periods in the present and future climate. The main focus of our project is on two regions: the Himalayas and the adjacent Tibetan Plateau on the one hand and the European Alps, on the other hand, thus enabling us to transfer the knowledge from one region to another.

The overarching goals of our proposal are to (i) better understand mountain climate and extreme events associated with mountains, (ii) to improve our models for the simulation of climate (and weather) over complex orography, and (iii) to better understand how mountainous areas will be affected by further warming of the atmosphere.

kmMountains is awarded by PRACE (Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe) for 1 year initially. The project is led by Nikolina Ban at the Department of Atmospheric and Cryospheric Sciences of the University of Innsbruck.