Our Conformal Cubic Atmospheric Model (CCAM) is helping Australian sectors to mitigate and adapt to climate change impacts by providing high-resolution climate information.

The challenge

High-resolution climate information

Energy, water, agriculture and health sectors need to access information about their local climate if they are to make informed business decisions. These sectors are vulnerable to the impacts of a changing climate and need to improve resilience and manage risk.

While global climate models (including the Australian Community Climate and Earth System Simulator) can model climate change impacts such as land surface temperature, they are not designed to provide high-resolution detail.

High-resolution detail can reveal climate impacts like changes in extreme weather (e.g., rainfall, cyclones), on urban environments and coastal regions.

Our response

Conformal Cubic Atmospheric Model (CCAM)

Our Conformal Cubic Atmospheric Model (CCAM) can simulate climate and weather at much finer resolutions (down to kilometre scales and beyond). It can also account for the differences in the predictions of global climate models.

An image of the globe with a grid on it

The CCAM is able to simulate fine spatial resolutions while interacting with the global climate circulation at lower resolution.

The CCAM achieves this detail by employing a variable resolution and global cubic grid design. This allows it to simulate fine spatial resolutions while interacting with the global climate circulation at lower resolution. This method is sometimes referred to as ‘dynamical downscaling.’

At this resolution, the CCAM can better represent topography including mountainous regions. It can also account for local atmospheric processes, as well as associated climate impacts, such as reduced rainfall in some elevated areas.

It can also better simulate extreme weather features, such as tropical cyclones or bushfire weather.

The CCAM includes components specifically tailored for Australia such as urban areas and vegetation.

The results

Regional climate information tailored to specific sectors

CCAM is based on over thirty years of CSIRO experience in developing regional climate models.

CSIRO has partnered with the state governments to develop local-scale climate projections data using CCAM.

Working with partners in Australian government, universities, businesses as well as across CSIRO, CCAM assists with developing specialised information for the regional climate that is tailored to the needs of each sector.

CSIRO, through CCAM, has international partnerships for developing regional climate modelling in Africa, South East Asia, New Zealand and South America. CCAM is used in the World Climate Research Programme’s Coordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiment (CORDEX). CORDEX contributes to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment reports. The CCAM technology also contributes to applications ranging from defence (Bluelink), air quality (with CSIRO’s Chemical Transport Model) and natural hazards.

NESP Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub

CCAM is used to support extreme weather projections developed by the National Environmental Science Programme’s (NESP) Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub.

Regional projections for government

CSIRO has partnered with the state governments to develop local-scale climate projections data using CCAM. It has contributed to the following projects:

Australian wine industry

Australia is the fifth largest wine exporter in the world and Australian wine businesses contribute over $45.5 billion annually to the economy. Working with the University of Tasmania, CSIRO provided regional projections for the Victorian government and the Australian Wine Industry using CCAM, identifying changes in average rainfall at elevated areas where grapes are typically grown. Analysis was also conducted for Queensland and Tasmania.

Electricity sector

CSIRO contributed to the $6M Electricity Sector Climate Initiative (ESCI) using CCAM to identify physical climate risks for the electricity sector.

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