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Work packages

The project is organised into eight main interlinked work packages (WPs), plus an additional WP (WP9), directly linking into the eight main WPs. In some of the WPs, we focus on development of new models, scenarios and methodologies (WP1, WP2, WP5, WP6); in other WPs we will use newest observational data sets to evaluate our ESMs (WP4, WP9) and analyse our simulations (performed in WP3), with a focus on abrupt changes and tipping points (WP5) and regional climate change (WP6, WP9). WP7 will define, implement and monitor the project’s strategy for communication, dissemination and exploitation.

WP1 will focus on parameterization and method development to improve the realism of process representation in
the ESMs, hybrid approaches for increasing model resolution and new ML-methods to accelerate calibration and
spin-up of ESMs. It will be the key WP to deliver the next generation of high-resolution ESMs.

WP2 focuses on the development of new emission and land use scenarios with IAMs and harmonization and gridding of the scenario data for use in ESMs. The scenarios will cover a broad range of future developments with a strong focus on Paris-compatible temperature targets. For ESMs and their components that require GHG concentrations, forcings and/or temperature pathways, Simple Climate Models (SCMs) will be used to emulate the ESMs.

WP3 will produce new climate simulations for benchmarking as well as idealised projections and IAM-based projections (WP2). These will initially be produced with the post-CMIP6 models and later updated using the new models from WP1. The state of the Earth system in the scenarios for different stabilisation and overshoot pathways will be assessed.

WP4 will evaluate the ESMs against observational data. It will compile novel observational datasets to understand the current status of models. Metrics will be developed to evaluate how ESMs simulate the mean state, variability, ongoing changes in the Earth system and particular processes relevant to abrupt change and tipping points.

WP5 will explore abrupt changes and tipping points in existing CMIP6 runs and in the new OptimESM-runs; develop new techniques to detect and forewarn of tipping points under transient climate change; and develop a risk landscape to summarise how tipping point risks vary with the rate of global warming. It will prioritise potential tipping points that may be triggered before the year 2300 and abrupt changes that could have significant impacts on human and natural systems.

WP6 will investigate the regional consequences of reaching different warming levels or from the triggering of abrupt climate changes, with a focus on Europe and the polar regions. Changes in extreme event occurrence and shifts in climate types over Europe will be attributed to different warming levels. Furthermore, ML based statistical downscaling methods will be developed for specific variables to provide high-resolution climate information from our global simulations. The added value of these new tools will be assessed in pilot applications over Europe and the downscaled data disseminated to the international impacts community enabling a wider assessment of the regional impacts.

WP7 will define, implement and monitor the project’s strategy for communication, dissemination and exploitation. OptimESM will target the climate research community to maximise the visibility, usability and uptake of the project’s results, and connect to the policy-making community to guarantee the uptake and incorporation of OptimESM’s results as scientific basis for policies implementing the goals of the Paris Agreement. WP7 will also focus on communication of the main project findings to the broader public to increase knowledge and trust in ESMs, delivering knowledge to support the societal transformations required to transition to a climate-neutral and resilient European society and economy.

WP8 is responsible for the overall coordination and management of the project, to establish and maintain scientific excellence, to ensure that the scientific objectives and impacts of the project are achieved and that the advice of the External Advisory Board (EAB) is integrated into the project. Further it will guarantee an efficient management of the data and ensure an efficient common analysis. This WP is important for the work in all WPs and thus contributes to all objectives.

WP9 contributes to several of OptimESMs main WPs, namely: ESM evaluation with focus on high-impact extreme events (WP4); analysis of extremes and abrupt changes in hotspot regions, such as the Mediterranean region (WP5, WP6); dynamical downscaling of selected post-CMIP6 ESMs (WP6) and assessment of social-economic impacts of extremes and abrupt changes with focus on hot spot regions (WP6); as well as complementing the project’s effort in connecting science and people (WP7).

Key exploitable results

OptimESM will produce a broad range of outstanding outcomes relevant for use by other researchers, working in the field of climate impacts and climate services, as well as for policymakers.