To prepare for extreme heat waves around the world, climate-simulation models that include a new computing concept called “ensemble boosting,” may save lives. Using computationally efficient modeling, it simulates a large set of extreme but plausible heat waves, while avoiding hundreds of hours of expensive calculations on large computers.
The study on the new modeling method, led by scientists at ETH Zurich, Switzerland and Cornell, was published Aug. 22 in Nature Communications. The authors believe that extreme heat events like the one in which more than 600 persons died in the US in 2021 may be anticipated with their method.
Ensemble boosting takes the most extreme heat events found in current computer climate models and reruns them with tiny differences in the initial conditions to see if even more extreme heat events are possible.
“Computationally, it’s much more affordable than running traditional climate model simulations, for hundreds or even thousands of years, in a computer and then find only two or three extreme heat wave events,” said co-author Angeline Pendergrass, assistant professor of Earth and atmospheric sciences.
The authors cautioned that to truly prepare for large-scale heat waves, long-term planning at municipal levels is needed. Ensemble boosting provides the worst-case scenario in a model format for the forthcoming decades that can be used for such planning.