Initial Areas of Scientific Inquiry:
Five broad areas of scientific inquiry are listed below. These are based on the perceived needs of climate science and are likely to change as that science progresses.
Climate as a complex dynamical system, leading to a better understanding of the natural modes of the climate system, their coupling to each other and to exogenous forces.
The physics of climate influences, leading to a better understanding of the mechanisms, magnitudes, and timescales by which anthropogenic and non-anthropogenic processes affect climate, including for example, greenhouse gases, solar variability and unforced influences such as internal modes of variability.
Insight into the nature, magnitude and timescales of climate sensitivity, arising from feedbacks including clouds, water vapor and the hydrological and carbon cycles, at the surface, in the atmosphere, and in the oceans.
The physics of proxies used to infer the properties of past climates for which instrumental records are not available, leading to a better understanding of past climates and their relation to the present climate.
The computational physics and statistical analysis of climate model and measurement systems, leading to a better understanding of the methods, capabilities, and limitations of climate models and climate simulation predictions.
Specific science areas underlying these issues include fluid dynamics, modeling of nonlinear systems, the physics of complex systems, gas phase physics and chemistry, radiation/heat transfer, phase transitions, measurement science, computational physics, statistics, and biological physics. (Addendum reviewed in 2018.)