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Climate change 'dragons' need early warning system

Patrick Thibodeau | Dec. 5, 2013
Abrupt climate risk are real and to prepare, global alert systems -- and exascale computers to run them -- must be built, says National Research Council

The specifics of the early warning system will be left to a later work. But the current report could help lawmakers who are looking to fund exascale supercomputing development efforts. An exascale system is capable of one million trillion calculations per second, or 1,000 times faster than the single petaflop systems available today

To date, the U.S. has not budgeted for full-scale exascale program. .

Climate change studies involves data collection on a global scale. Data is collected from the depths of the ocean, all land masses, the sky and from incoming solar energy. The studies must look at the chemistry of the oceans, the atmosphere, aerosols, precipitation, cloud, ice sheets, glaciers and many other forces.

The data today is in different formats, so standards and APIs must be developed.

Computing power increases the ability of scientists to model and simulate what is going on, and thus potentially discover a climate tipping point before it happens.

But increases in computing power could also help combat climate change.

A U.S. Dept. of Energy report earlier this year, said that exascale computing "offers the promise of enabling combustion simulations" that are "needed to design fuel efficient, clean burning vehicles" and power plants. The conventional method of developing new engines and certifying new fuels "have only led to incremental improvements."


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