As a rule, basic research concerning the environment, climate and earth system includes two components:
• observing processes in nature and society (measurements, taking samples, surveys, analyses etc.)
• developing computer models to describe and more accurately study those processes, or to make future forecasts
For the purposes of developing models the respective processes, such as matter and energy cycles, economic and social trends, are closely studied and represented by mathematical equations. In this regard, many models focus only on subfields.
Some only represent specific processes, such as energy transfer or the global carbon cycle, while others address individual components: the ocean, atmosphere or land. Further, these models not only cover the global scale; higher-resolution versions are also available at the regional or even local scale, allowing individual countries and regional phenomena to be examined 'under the magnifying glass'.