Environmental Science Division (EVS)a Division of Argonne National Laboratory
Predictive environmental understanding

Argonne climate model helps Pacific Gas and Electric Company combat climate change impacts, including wildfires

March 10, 2021

Most climate models provide information on how climate will change over a large area, typically 100 square kilometers or more. Although this can help prepare for changes in climate at the global scale, it is not very useful for planning on a regional scale, particularly in a place where weather patterns change dramatically, for example, from one side of a mountain range to another. Additionally, companies find it hard to utilize data from these models to assess the effects of climate change on their infrastructure. Corporations want to know how climate change impacts could affect their operations, customers and the bottom line.

In order to address this challenge, scientists at Argonne developed a detailed climate model that projects future climate in a 12 km grid across the entire United States using physics-based computational models. Harnessing the power of Argonne's supercomputing resources, they took some of the most accurate global climate models available at 100 km grid cells and made them work over a much smaller scale, allowing for regional modeling of current and future climate conditions.

Now, Argonne is using that model to determine changes in fine-scale meteorological data that will help Pacific Gas and Electric Company plan for the future of climate change in California, with a particular focus on understanding the conditions that produce wildfires, and how those conditions will change in California through 2050.

“Our goal is to translate this huge data set we created into useable data products so that others can use it to estimate their impacts and risk,” said Rao Kotamarthi, EVS chief scientist and head of the Climate & Earth System Science Department.

Read the full article by Liz Thompson.