It may look like a satellite photo, but this Earth portrait comes from a climate simulation run on the supercomputer at Oak Ridge. The image charts water vapor in the atmosphere, with highest concentrations in white; note the cyclone approaching India. To emphasize human susceptibility to climate, Oak Ridge visualization specialist Jamison Daniel shaded the landmasses to reflect population density (with orange and red denoting the highest concentrations).
Such models are intended to bridge the gap between detailed, short-term weather forecasting and broader, long-range climate modeling. These models might be able to peer up to 50 years ahead and "show regional events, like a heat wave in India, rather than just global trends, like higher temperatures," says Kate Evans, a scientist at the lab.