Header Image of the Earth

Essay #2: Global Climate Model

Learning Objectives


Before you begin this assignment, your TA will assign you a global climate model (GCM) to research. Use the library and online resources to research about your GCM.

In this essay, you will be asked to read a scientific article and discuss the main points of this article. Reading scientific articles is often a difficult task as they are written by professionals, for professionals (not the general public or students). Your goal should be not to understand everything you read in the article, but to pull out relevant information and discuss the overall findings and conclusions of the paper.


In this essay assignment, you will research a GCM. Write an essay that answers the following prompts:

1. Describe is the history of the model. This may include what group created the model, what year it was created, and what previous models it builds upon or draws from.

2. Describe the model. You should answer the following questions:

3. Discuss in brief and general terms, why is the model unique? Why is this model needed?

Your model may make predictions for GHG concentrations, temperature, sea ice and sea level, and/or ocean pH. The text book has figures (4.14 – 4.39) with predictions for these factors under different emission scenarios (for example, figure 4.18 shows CO2 concentrations under different emission scenarios). Which textbook figure predicts the same factor as your model? How do the predictions made by your model compare to the predictions made in that figure?

4. Compare your GCM with another student’s GCM using the forum or chat tool on the class web site (any GCM other than your own). Discuss similarities and/or differences between what your models do and how they are being used.

5. Conclude with a critique of your GCM. This may include, but does not need to include all of the following:


This assignment draws upon the following sources:

Exercise 2: How to read a scientific article

Bloom, Arnold J (2010) Global Climate Change, Convergence of Disciplines, Sinauer Associates, Inc, Sunderland, Massachusetts.

PDF File: IPCC 2007 GCMs
Cite as: Randall, D.A., R.A. Wood, S. Bony, R. Colman, T. Fichefet, J. Fyfe, V. Kattsov, A. Pitman, J. Shukla, J. Srinivasan, R.J. Stouffer, A. Sumi and K.E. Taylor, (2007): Climate Models and Their Evaluation. In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M.Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA


• Title page with your name, date, essay title
• 2-3 pages double spaced
• 12 point font, Times New Roman
• 1” margins
• You must use at least 4 references
• Include in-text citations and a reference list for any sources you use. The reference list does not count toward your page limit.
• Refer to the documents on Essay Writing and Formatting for examples and more details.