Scientific Models
scientific model: A simple representation of a more complex system.
Physical models are smaller and simpler representations of the thing being studied. A globe or a map is a physical model of a portion or all of Earth. Although originally designed to measure atmospheric water vapor and temperature profiles for weather forecasting, data from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA's Aqua spacecraft are now also being used by scientists to observe atmospheric carbon dioxide. Scientists from NASA; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts; the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey; and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Pasadena, Calif., are using several different methods to measure the concentration of carbon dioxide in the mid-troposphere (about eight kilometers, or five miles, above the surface). This visualization shows Aqua/AIRS mid-tropospheric carbon dioxide from July 2003. Low concentrations, 360 ppm, are shown in blue and high concentrations, 385 ppm, are shown in red. Notice that despite carbon dioxide's high degree of mixing, the regional patterns of atmospheric sources and sinks are still apparent in mid-troposphere carbon dioxide concentrations. This pattern of high carbon dioxide in the Northern Hemisphere (North America, Atlantic Ocean, and Central Asia) is consistent with model predictions. ______________________________________________________________________ About AIRS The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder, AIRS, in conjunction with the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit, AMSU, sense emitted infrared and microwave radiation from the Earth to provide a three-dimensional look at Earth's weather and climate. Working in tandem, the two instruments make simultaneous observations all the way down to the Earth's surface, even in the presence of heavy clouds. With more than 2,000 channels sensing different regions of the atmosphere, the system creates a global, 3-dimensional map of atmospheric temperature and humidity, cloud amounts and heights, greenhouse gas concentrations, and many other atmospheric phenomena. The AIRS and AMSU fly onboard NASA's Aqua spacecraft and are managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, under contract to NASA. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Credit NASA/JPL AIRS Project NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio Download the image Various sizes of the image are available, and there are two ways to download: 1) Right-click on the image. Click on a size next to "View all sizes". 2) Click on the "Actions" menu located above the image. Select "View all sizes". Resources Additional formats and stills › Atmospheric Infrared Sounder web site › How to get the AIRS data Data Products › Data Portals › Documentation ›
Conceptual models tie together many ideas to explain a phenomenon or event. Explore CK-12 Foundation's photos on Flickr. CK-12 Foundation has uploaded 175 photos to Flickr.
Mathematical models are sets of equations that take into account many factors to represent a phenomenon. Mathematical models are usually done on computers.
A model deals with only a portion of a system. It may not predict the behavior of the real system very accurately.
Scientific models can help to make predictions such as weather.

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