9R53. General Circulation Model Development: Past, Present, and Future. International Geophysics Series, Vol 70. - Edited by DA Randall (Dept of Atmos Sci, Colorado State Univ, Ft Collins CO). Academic Press, San Diego CA. 2000. 803 pp. ISBN 0-12-578010-9. $99.00.
Reviewed by J Zehnder (Dept of Geography, Arizona State Univ, PO Box 870104, Tempe AZ 85287).
This book is a collection of papers prepared for a symposium honoring Prof Akio Arakawa upon his retirement. The symposium was held in January 1998 on the campus of the University of California-Los Angeles, where Arakawa spent the majority of his career on the faculty of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences. Arakawa received a BSc in physics from Tokyo University in 1950 and a DSc from the same in 1961. He gained practical experience as a research meteorologist with the Japan Meteorological Agency and at UCLA working with Prof Yale Mintz.
Arakawa’s research has led to landmark contributions in the development of general circulation models (GCMs) and to the understanding of the atmosphere in general. He provided early and significant contributions to numerical methods which allow for finite difference solutions of the Navier-Stokes equations on a rotating sphere (the so-called primitive equations) and to the parameterization of moist processes and cloud formation. Each of these seminal contributions helped shaped areas of research that have led to the current state of the art GCMs.
The book consists of 23 papers that span a wide range of topics from historical perspectives, discussions of the current state of global scale atmospheric modeling, and theoretical aspects of the subject. Arakawa himself contributed three of the articles: his personal recollections of early model development at UCLA, a discussion of the origin of cumulus parameterizations, and his views on the future development of GCMs. The remainder of the contributions are provided by recognized researchers, many of whom are former students and collaborators. Arakawa’s contributions to the field, through his ideas, research, and mentoring of future scientists are well illustrated in this volume.
The historical perspectives are provided in the first three chapters in an article by Arakawa, one on the history of GCMs by Paul Lewis, and a discussion of Phillip’s early work by John Lewis. Discussions of early work on data assimilation by Halem et al. (Ch 5) and on the development of cumulus paramterization by Wayne Schubert (Ch 6) round out the historical perspectives.
A fair amount of the text is devoted to technical details of GCMs. Mesinger provides a review of finite difference techniques, which Arakawa helped pioneer, in Chapter 13. Randall et al. describes an alternative to the finite difference and spectral models, the geodesic grid, in Chapter 17. A wide range of physical processes such as boundary layer (Moeng and Stevens, Ch 19), clouds and moisture (Moorthi, Ch 9; Kruger, Ch 20) radiative transfer (Sommerville, Ch 21) are discussed. An overview of ocean models is provided by McWilliams (Ch 14) and the formidable task of coupling oceanic and atmospheric GCMs is described by Mechoso et al. in Chapter 18.
The more theoretical perspectives are provided by Kerry Emanuel (Ch 8) in a discussion of Quasi-Equilibrium Thinking, which includes the statistical equilibrium representation of cumulus convection developed by Schubert and Arakawa. Problem solving with GCMs and aspects of chaotic dynamics are described by Ghil and Robertson (Ch 10), and Donald Johnson reviews the energetics of the equilibrium climate state in Chapter 22. Aspects of operational long-term weather and climate forecasts at the European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecasts (Hollingsworth, Ch 11) and the Japan Meteorological Agency (Tokioka, Ch 12) are also presented. The final chapter of the book is devoted to Arakawa’s discussion of the future development of GCMs, focusing on the vertical and horizontal discretization problems and issues related to the parameterization of the boundary layer, stratiform, and cumulus clouds.
General Circulation Model Development: Past, Present, and Future is of great value to researchers active in the development and use of GCMs and to anyone interested in the history of GCM development. There is also discussion of the use of GMCs to study global warming, in which both sides of the heated debate are elucidated. The reference list at the end of each chapter is quite comprehensive and serves as a starting point for anyone interested further detail. The book would also serve as a text for a graduate course on modeling of the earth’s general circulation and is a valuable addition to any individual’s or library’s collection.