Computer-generated images of a planet’s “zonal velocity” (the west-to-east component of wind) use direct numerical simulation (the traditional approach, left) and direct statistical simulation. The latter has limits, but its development is at a very early stage. Credit: Marston lab/Brown University
Scientists are using ever more complex models running on ever more powerful computers to simulate the earth’s climate. But new research suggests that basic physics could offer a simpler and more meaningful way to model key elements of climate.