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Under the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) the Working Group on Coupled Modelling (WGCM) established the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) as a standard experimental protocol for studying the output of coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation models (AOGCMs). CMIP provides a community-based infrastructure in support of climate model diagnosis, validation, intercomparison, documentation and data access. This framework enables a diverse community of scientists to analyze GCMs in a systematic fashion, a process which serves to facilitate model improvement. Virtually the entire international climate modeling community has participated in this project since its inception in 1995. The Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI) archives much of the CMIP data and provides other support for CMIP. PCMDI's CMIP effort is funded by the Regional and Global Climate Modeling (RGCM) Program of the Climate and Environmental Sciences Division of the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science, Biological and Environmental Research (BER) program.
Coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation models allow the simulated climate to adjust to changes in climate forcing, such as increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. CMIP began in 1995 by collecting output from model "control runs" in which climate forcing is held constant. Later versions of CMIP have collected output from an idealized scenario of global warming, with atmospheric CO2 increasing at the rate of 1% per year until it doubles at about Year 70. CMIP output is available for study by approved diagnostic sub-projects.
Phase three of CMIP (CMIP3) included "realistic" scenarios for both past and present climate forcing. The research based on this dataset provided much of the new material underlying the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4).
We are now beginning the process towards the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report and with it the CMIP5 intercomparison activity.
The CMIP5 (CMIP Phase 5) experiment design has been finalized with the following suites of experiments:
I Decadal Hindcasts and Predictions simulations,
II "long-term" simulations,
III "atmosphere-only" (prescribed SST) simulations for especially computationally-demanding models.