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2.1 Atmospheric General Circulation Models


Stefano Materia, CMCC The Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change


  • A brief introduction on General Circulation Models;  General circulation models of the atmosphere are resolved by complicated equations that need to be discretized in order to find a solution.
  • Horizontal resolution plays an important role for a correct simulation of climate processes, a better representation of orography.
  • Two different approaches: AMIP-type (ocean is a boundary condition) and  fully coupled type (ocean and atmosphere interact every time step)
  • Despite systematic biases, models are able to reproduce the past climate,  when the anthropogenic forcing is introduced. It’s likely that future climate is also well projected.
  • The far target of climate projections makes the impact of initialization neglectable: instead, boundary conditions have a crucial role for the representation of future climate. A realistic state initial state representation is needed for climate predictions


Atmospheric General Circulation Models: methodology, results, biases
Stefano Materia, Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici CMCC

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License


This second module aims providing theoretical and practical knowledge on sources of regional predictability, climate models used for seasonal forecasting and on downscaling techniques.
The climate of the Mediterranean region is largely forced by large-scale circulation patterns. The time and space behavior of the regional features associated with large scale forcing is complex. Teleconnections with global scale patterns are shaped by the complex Mediterranean orography and land-sea distribution, and determine the presence of meso-scale structures and inter-seasonal variability of regional atmospheric patterns. Therefore, the climate presents a large spatio-temporal variability: synoptic to mesoscale spatial variability, and inter-seasonal and multi-decadal to centennial time variability. All these characteristics make the seasonal forecasting in the Mediterranean a challenge.

This module allows students:

  • Understanding how forecasts are produced using Atmospheric General Circulation Models, including methodology, results and biases
  • Learning about the main sources of predictability in the Mediterranean region
  • Learning about Downscaling Techniques
  • Having insight of some application through case studies


This module requires some knowledge about Climate Models.
If you want to test your knowledge, before you begin, you can access the MetEd pre-assessment test. MetEd is a free collection of training resources for the geoscience community. Please note that the MetEd website requires registration.


  • Models Overview 

  • The GLOBO model 

    • 2.4.1 Overview and Monthly Forecasting with GLOBO
    • 2.4.2 Forecasting strategy
    • 2.4.3 Applications of GLOBO forecast
  • Dynamical Seasonal forecasting 

    • 2.5 The CMCC System
  • Downscaling Technique 

    • 2.6 Downscaling Technique & Regional Modelling Approach
  • Regional Predictability and Forecasts 

    • 2.7 The Mediterranean Region: Seasonal predictability and ENSO
    • 2.8 Regional Predictability and Forecast: South America Region
  • Seminar and Exercise 

    • 2. Predictability of Precipitation over MED (exercise)
    • 2. Terciles and probabilities in the context of seasonal forecasts (seminar)
  • Supplemental Resources 

    • 2 Links and Bibliography
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