A coordinated set of global coupled climate model [atmosphere–ocean general circulation model (AOGCM)] experiments for twentieth- and twenty-first-century climate, as well as several climate change commitment and other experiments, was run by 16 modeling groups from 11 countries with 23 models for assessment in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4). Since the assessment was completed, output from another model has been added to the dataset, so the participation is now 17 groups from 12 countries with 24 models. This effort, as well as the subsequent analysis phase, was organized by the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) Climate Variability and Predictability (CLIVAR) Working Group on Coupled Models (WGCM) Climate Simulation Panel, and constitutes the third phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP3). The dataset is called the WCRP CMIP3 multimodel dataset, and represents the largest and most comprehensive international global coupled climate model experiment and multimodel analysis effort ever attempted. As of March 2007, the Program for Climate Model Diagnostics and Intercomparison (PCMDI) has collected, archived, and served roughly 32 TB of model data. With oversight from the panel, the multimodel data were made openly available from PCMDI for analysis and academic applications. Over 171 TB of data had been downloaded among the more than 1000 registered users to date. Over 200 journal articles, based in part on the dataset, have been published AMERICAN METEOROLOGICAL SOCIETY so far. Though initially aimed at the IPCC AR4, this unique and valuable resource will continue to be maintained for at least the next several years. Never before has such an extensive set of climate model simulations been made available to the international climate science community for study. The ready access to the multimodel dataset opens up these types of model analyses to researchers, including students, who previously could not obtain state-of-the-art climate model output, and thus represents a new era in climate change research. As a direct consequence, these ongoing studies are increasing the body of knowledge regarding our understanding of how the climate system currently works, and how it may change in the future.

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Footnotes

National Center for Atmospheric Research* Boulder, Colorado

Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison, Livermore, California

Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, New Jersey

Leibniz-lnstitut fuer Meereswissenschaften, Kiel, Germany

Bureau of Meteorology, Research Centre, Melbourne, Australia

Hadley Centre, Exeter, United Kingdom

*The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation