It works, but it’s slow. However, computers are getting faster and more powerful all the time, and center scientists expect the new approach to become routine in the coming years.
At present, “it takes a couple of hundred times longer, but we can do it,” Randall says. “It’s actually possible to do climate change simulations. It’s a new way of coming at the problem that turns out to work better than anything we are using today.”
The center also has an extensive education and outreach program designed, among other things, to train teachers and students through workshops, conferences and classes about climate change and Earth sciences. High school teachers, for example, can take intensive courses on weather and climate, and receive college credit.
Each year, the center also sponsors a climate conference for high school students to encourage them to explore climate science, the regional and global effects of changing climate, and sustainable technologies and lifestyles.
“Education is a key part of the center’s mission,” Randall says. “We are trying to make it easier for people to learn what climate science is all about. We also want to train new young scientists to go out into the world, do the research, and train others.”
For more information, read NSF's special report on clouds.