The Future in Focus: Predicting Climate Change through Observations, Modeling, and Artificial Intelligence

LLNL Scientist(s)
Mark D. Zelinka,
Aaron S. Donahue
Stan Hitomi
Teacher's School
San Ramon Valley Unified School District


Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing humanity. In this presentation, we will describe the science underpinning our understanding of climate change in the context of Earth’s geologic history, the role of humans in driving the unprecedented changes currently being observed, what we know about the future trajectory of warming, and where the key uncertainties lie. We will then highlight cutting-edge work in modeling the Earth’s climate, especially the improvement in predictions that arise from performing very high resolution simulations on the world’s fastest computers. Finally, we will discuss work at the frontier of climate science involving how artificial intelligence is being used to improve the resolution and accuracy of climate predictions, important for assessing the local impacts of climate change and building resiliency.



Mark D. Zelinka received a B. S. in Meteorology from Pennsylvania State University and a Ph. D. in Atmospheric Sciences from University of Washington. He is a climate scientist in the Atmosphere, Earth and Energy Division at LLNL who seeks to determine how sensitive Earth’s climate is to increasing greenhouse gases. His research focuses on understanding how clouds will respond to – and feed back on – global warming. He is a contributing author to the latest assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.


Aaron S. Donahue received a B. A. in Mathematics from Sonoma State University, a M. S. in Applied Mathematics from San Diego State University and a Ph. D. in Civil Engineering from the University of Notre Dame. He is a climate scientist at LLNL whose research focuses on the development and application of global climate models. His research activities at LLNL have contributed to advancing DOE’s future climate modeling capabilities through the Energy Exascale Earth System model (E3SM). 


Stan Hitomi received a B. S. in Biology from UC Berkeley and a Masters in Athletic Administration from St. Mary's college. retired in 2020 after 31 years as a teacher, principal and district administrator for the San Ramon Valley Unified School District. He is a Carnegie Scholar, served on the Community Advisory Panel for Station KQED, co-chair for the Teaching and California’s Future Task Force, and founding chair for the California Teacher Advisory Council. Stan has been at LLNL for over 25 years as an intern, faculty scholar, and he was the Director of the Edward Teller Education Center.