Schematic for a Climate Model

This image shows the concept used in climate models. Each of the thousands of 3-dimensional grid cells can be represented by mathematical equations that describe the materials in it and the way energy moves through it. The advanced equations are based on the fundamental laws of physics, fluid motion, and chemistry. To "run" a model, scientists specify the climate forcing (for instance, setting variables to represent the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere) and have powerful computers solve the equations in each cell. Results from each grid cell are passed to neighboring cells, and the equations are solved again. Repeating the process through many time steps represents the passage of time. Image source: NOAA.