February 28, 2024

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Empowering Climate Prediction: India’s IITM-ESM Model

The Centre for Climate Change Research (CCCR) at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, has successfully developed the first-ever indigenous Earth System Model (ESM) known as the IITM-ESM.

This major achievement marks a significant milestone in India’s climate research efforts, with the IITM-ESM playing a pivotal role in climate change assessments. Notably, the model was utilised in the latest Sixth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), highlighting its importance on the global stage.

Image credits: IITM Earth System Model, pdf

The accurate prediction of Asian monsoon rainfall in the face of climate change is crucial, as over one-fifth of the global population relies heavily on the monsoon. However, existing climate models struggle to adequately represent monsoon precipitation and variability, particularly in regions like India.

To meet this critical need, the Centre for Climate Change Research (CCCR) has developed the IITM-ESM Earth System Model, aiming to provide reliable future projections of monsoon rainfall in India. Developed based on a collaboration between the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) in India and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the USA, the IITM-ESM builds upon the Climate Forecast System version 2 (CFSv2) to transform a seasonal prediction model into a long-term climate model.

The first version of the IITM ESM (ESMv1) demonstrated significant enhancements in simulating sea surface temperature and capturing major climate variabilities linked to the Indian summer monsoon. Subsequent improvements in the latest version (IITM-ESM2.0) aim to establish a radiatively-balanced global climate modelling framework, essential for predicting long-term climate change.

Notably, the model incorporates the radiative effects of natural and anthropogenic aerosols by specifying time-varying 3-dimensional fields of aerosol optical properties. Furthermore, it integrates land-use and land-cover changes using the land harmonisation dataset (LUH2), resulting in improved simulations of sea ice distribution, ocean biogeochemistry, and mean precipitation across the Asian monsoon region.

Of particular significance is the IITM-ESM’s enhanced representation of the mean state over the Indo-Pacific region and the improvement in large-scale circulation patterns, including the Walker and Hadley circulations and their associated teleconnections.

Importantly, the model realistically depicts ENSO-Monsoon teleconnections, addressing a longstanding weakness in many climate models. As part of its contribution to the forthcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 6th phase of the Coupled Modeling Inter-comparison Project (CMIP6), IITM will provide DECK, historic, and GMMIP simulations, marking a significant milestone for climate modelling efforts originating from India.

In a significant step towards promoting climate resilience and informed decision-making, the National Climate Change Assessment report, which documents regional climate change projections based on the IITM-ESM, has been released. This comprehensive report serves as a valuable resource for students, researchers, and policymakers, providing insights into the anticipated impacts of climate change at a regional level.

Moreover, recognising the critical importance of advancing climate forecasting capabilities, substantial funding amounting to Rs. 192.28 crores has been allocated to IITM-CCCR for the Monsoon Convection, Clouds, and Climate Change (MC4) sub-scheme. This funding, spanning the period from 2017 to 2023, underscores the commitment towards enhancing India’s capacity for climate prediction and adaptation strategies. For access to the National Climate Change Assessment report and further information, interested parties can visit the link.

OpenGov Asia reported that India is actively pursuing the development of indigenous technological and digital solutions across all sectors and fields, aiming to enhance self-reliance and bolster its position as a global leader in innovation. The country is investing in R&D initiatives to create homegrown solutions. In alignment with India’s pursuit of self-reliance, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is championing initiatives to foster ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ by developing indigenous technologies.


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