The partners have won a £400,000 grant from the Natural Environment Research Council's e-Science initiative and further £350,000 from Oxford e-Science Centre to test and improve the leading climate prediction model, using hundreds of thousands of personal computers.
With climate there are many variables and parameters involved; thus it is needed to run the models over and over again, slightly varying the starting conditions each time, and seeing what the spread of results is at the end. The models simulate the changes occurring in the Earth's atmosphere and oceans every few hours, and because so much data is involved they are usually run on supercomputers taking up a lot of computer time and financial resources. By porting the most advanced one, the Hadley Centre model, onto PC platform, climateprediction.net hopes to harness the idle capacity of the numerous PC around the world.
On average it may take up to six months to run one such model. The results will be sent back to us and we will build an enormous database with petabytes - a billion megabytes - of data generated by the aggregated model runs. This database will then be 'mined' to search for shortcomings and anomalies in the model. From the climatology research point of view it is about making the model better, and making the climate predictions more reliable. However, there are enormous opportunities also in the area of advanced web and communication technologies.
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