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MILMO project

Belspo-Belspo-SPSD II (2000-2005)

MILMO - Modelling the evolution of climate and sea level over the third millenium; coupling the Antarctic and Greenland ice-sheet models with a global AOGCM of intermediate complexity

Project description

The atmospheric component of our model has the big advantage that it has been simplified to a level that makes many runs on a multiple-century timescale computationally feasible, while at the same time producing results which, on the whole, are comparable to those of comprehensive general circulation models.

That distinguishes our work from other studies that are often limited to one or two scenarios over a few decades. Preparatory work prior to the coupling of the three subcomponents of our global model will entail improvements in the physics, parameterisations, and datasets according to the latest developments in the respective fields, and to the development of efficient interfaces to exchange information between all the components.
Most importantly, we will reduce and hopefully eliminate freshwater-flux corrections in the atmosphere-vegetation-sea-ice-ocean model, refine parameterisations and numerical schemes in the marine carbon-cycle model, and quadruple the resolution of the ice-sheet models to better represent the flow at the ice-sheet margin. Improvements to the global glacier-melt algorithm will include the incorporation of changing glacier area and dynamic adjustment to new climatic conditions.

With the coupled model, we will study climate and sea-level changes for the periods 1750-2000 and 2000-2100 with ensemble runs in order to provide a measure of the climate variability exhibited by the model. These experiments will be forced by the observed natural and anthropogenic evolutions of solar irradiance, stratospheric aerosol load, carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions, and concentrations of greenhouse gases other than CO2 and of sulphate aerosols for the period 1750-2000, and by the six SRES marker scenarios and the IS92a scenario developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for the twenty-first century. Projections of climate and sea-level changes over the third millennium will follow plausible emission scenarios designed to reach concentration stabilisation at various levels. A series of sensitivity experiments will assess the importance of including interactive ice-sheet, land-vegetation, and carbon-cycle representations in the model.

In all our experiments, a special emphasis will be put on the evolution of carbon-dioxide uptake by the ocean and the continental biosphere and on the stability of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets. In addition, the influence of heat and freswater fluxes on the thermohaline circulation in the North Atlantic and the effects of the latter on European climate will be investigated thoroughly. In particular, the thresholds at which abrupt climate change could occur in the third millennium will be determined on the basis of model results.

Complementary resources about this scientific project

Project team

Project Coordinator:

Prof. Thierry Fichefet (UCL-ASTR)
Université catholique de Louvain,
Institut d'Astronomie et de Géophysique Georges Lemaître (UCL-ASTR)
2, chemin du Cyclotron
1348 Louvain-la-Neuve
Tel: +32-10-47.32.95
Fax: +32-10-47.47.22

Involved research groups:

Dr. Philippe Huybrechts and Prof. Hugo Decleir
Vrije Universiteit Brussel,
Departement Geografie (VUB-DGGF)
Pleinlaan, 2
1050 Brussel
Tel: +32-2-629.35.93

Dr. Guy Munhoven and Ms. Anne Mouchet
Université de Liège, Institut d'astrophysique et de géophysique,
Laboratoire de physique atmosphérique et planétaire (ULg-LPAP)
5, avenue de Cointe
4000 Liège
Tel: +32-4-254.75.71

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