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Examining wind turning in climate models

Research about wind flow patterns in the atmosphere advances our understanding of extreme weather events, which, when accurately forecasted, can save lives, support emergency services, and help to make mitigation efforts more effective. One challenge in these models is representing how wind direction veers at different heights as a result of friction at Earth’s surface, or “wind-turning.” Within the planetary boundary layer (PBL), the layer of the atmosphere closest to Earth’s surface, we understand relatively little about wind turning, yet it is clear that it has impacts on larger atmospheric and oceanic flow.

A new study, supported by the Climate Program Office’s Climate Variability & Predictability (CVP) Program, evaluates eight models participating in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project version 6 (CMIP6), to see how accurately they estimate wind-turning angles in the PBL compared to observations.

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