Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies, Institute of Global Environment and Society
Data Center Description
The Institute of Global Environment and Society, Inc. (IGES) has established a center of excellence dedicated to basic research on the Earth's current climate: the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies (COLA), located in Calverton, Maryland. By consolidating several research grants from three different federal agencies (NSF, NOAA and NASA), a single, multi-agency, multi-year research project was developed to create a critical mass of scientists working together as a team at COLA on the basic problem of the predictability of the present climate. With continuing multi-agency support, COLA has become a national center of excellence for research on climate variability and predictability.
COLA is a unique institution, which allows earth scientists from several disciplines to work closely together on interdisciplinary research related to variability and predictability of Earth's climate on seasonal to decadal time scales. The scientific premise for research at COLA is that there is a predictable element of the Earth's current climate that makes it possible to accurately forecast climate variations. While the chaotic nature of the global atmosphere is known to impose a limit on the predictability of the state of the climate at a given instant, the hypothesis behind COLA's research suggests that there is predictability in the midst of chaos, and that accurate climate forecasts with lead times longer than the inherent limit of deterministic predictability are possible.
In order to critically examine the hypothesis, COLA scientists utilize numerical models of the Earth's global atmosphere, world oceans and land surface biosphere in numerical predictability experiments and experimental predictions, and use advanced techniques for analysis of observational and model data. By seeking to always use the best available climate model, COLA scientists remain on the leading edge of research advancements. By tightly coupling the predictability research and experimental predictions for real observed climate situations, COLA scientists find that the predictability results provide guidance for improving the experimental forecast, and the prediction results can be applied directly to experimental design for studying predictability and improving prediction models.