Princeton University, New Jersey, USA,  2-4 November 2016

The Modeling Hierarchies Workshop will be held on the campus of Princeton University, New Jersey, USA. The meeting will run from 13:00, 2 November 2016 to 17:00, 4 November 2016. This meeting is held in conjunction with WGCM-20, which runs from 1-2 November 2016.


In "On Exactitude in Science", the Argentinian writer Borges tells the parable of a nation bankrupted by its cartographers, who endeavoured to create a map of the country on the scale of the country itself. It is sometimes argued that builders of Earth System models, which continue to grow in resolution and complexity, somewhat resemble Borges' mapmakers. Models so intricate that their behaviour is as rich and mysterious as the planet's itself, may not advance the science of climate as much as we would like.

Workshop goals

In an in influential essay, Isaac Held indicated how we may bridge this "gap between simulation and understanding". We construct hierarchies of models, with a range of complexity: simpler ones that embody a particular mechanism that underlies some aspect of the full Earth system, to comprehensive general circulation models with an interactive carbon cycle. An impressive range of models form the toolkit of Earth System Science: simpli ed forms of the primitive equations to study rotating fluids, LES models to study turbulence, cloud-resolving models, and so on, up to AOGCMs and ESMs. Similarly there are modeling experiments also forming a hierarchy from highly idealized settings to the attempts to recreate the observed climate history in all its glory.

A key challenge is how to make the hierarchy more eff ective, so that we may readily isolate observed behaviour of a complex model in a simpler one, and represent findings from idealized models in GCMs. This workshop solicits talks that address this challenge. A desired outcome of the workshop is a paper intended for a broad audience around the theme of model hierarchies, to which all workshop participants will be encouraged to contribute.

 Point of contacts
  • Local issues: Anna Valerio (apval (at)
  • Other issues: Catherine Michaut (catherine.michaut (at)