Leo van Kampenhout wins student award

NESSC-researcher Leo van Kampenhout has been awarded the very first CESM Graduate Student Award. Van Kampenhout, PhD-student at the Ice and Climate research group of the Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research (IMAU) in Utrecht, receives the award in recognition of his contributions to improve the modelling of snow properties in the Community Earth System Model (CESM).

Leo van Kampenhout

Van Kampenhout is the first recipient of the CESM Graduate Student Award, which was handed to him this Monday in Boulder (Colorado), United States, during the annual CESM meeting. He also gave a presentation on his improvements of the CESM, a global climate model which incorporates various components of the Earth’s system, including atmosphere, ocean, ice and land.

Snow density
In particular, Van Kampenhout has worked at improving the modelling of snow density in the CESM. Snow density is an important physical property of snow which determines, amongst others, the degree of heat transfer in snow, Van Kampenhout explains: “Given a same amount of heat, loose snow melts, whereas more dense, compact snow does not. We knew the modelling of snow density in CESM did not properly reflect our observations of the earth. For instance, in the model we see snow at Antarctica melt, while in reality this does not happen.”

Van Kampenhout also improved on the modelling of the refreezing of meltwater. “This is an important mechanism in the melting behaviour of snow and ice. It also determines, for instance, the amount of meltwater which ends up reaching the oceans.”

Collaborating scientists
The Community Earth System Model is a global model of the Earth system, including a climate model for running simulations of the Earth’s past, present and future climate. Improving the model is a community-driven effort by small teams of collaborating scientists from different universities that work on individual components of the model.