PalMod - Paleo Modelling: A national paleo climate modelling initiative

The funding initiative PalMod investigates, identifies and quantifies the defining processes, and simulates the climate of the last 130 000 years to the present with high-resolution Earth system models.
Simulation der Glazialen Eisschilde im Rahmen des Projektes PalMod. Farben zeigen die Flussgeschwindigkeit des Eises. Zur besseren Sichtbarkeit wurden Topographie und Bathymetrie um einen Faktor 100 erhöht dargestellt. Hintergrundbild: NASA Blue Marb (Florian Ziemen / Max-Planck-Institut für Meteorologie)
Glacial maximum ice sheets modeled with PISM (Parallel Ice Sheet Model)
photo: Florian Ziemen / Max-Planck-Institut für Meteorologie

The earth’s climate has considerably changed already since the start of the industrialization featuring, for example, significant global surface warming, ice loss and sea level rise (IPCC 2013). The term "Anthropocene" was coined to describe the large human impact on the Earth system, which is now comparable to the natural influences. However, large natural climate excursions were also observed in the past. Most prominent are the glacial cycles and these need to be understood and simulated with comprehensive Earth system models in order to reliably project the future climate.

The funding measure PalMod examines climate dynamics, natural climate variability and the underlying controlling processes during the last glacial cycle (the last 130 000 years) as well as their impact on future climate.

PalMod is focused on understanding climate system dynamics and variability during the last glacial cycle. To enable this, the relative contributions of the processes which characterized the earth’s climate trajectory and variability of the last glacial cycle will be identified, quantified and the climate of the last 130 000 years simulated up to the present with Earth system models. In order to allow these very long simulations over a period of 130,000 years, computer scientists optimize the existing Earth system models and thus improve their system performance.

With the results of these pilot studies the resilience of climate projections can be better estimated and the significance of climate projections for future climate simulations can be improved accordingly. Thus, conditions for improving the adaptability of the economy and society to future climate variations are created.

The funding measure is designed for several phases (2-3 phases with a total duration of about 10 years). The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) supports the first phase (2015-2019) of the funding measure with 54 individual projects and € 19 million. On behalf of the BMBF (Unit 723 "Global Change") the division Environment and Sustainability of the DLR Project Management Agency, Part of the German Aerospace Center, is technically and administratively responsible for the funding initiative.

Last update: 14.01.2016