Subject: Viridian Note 00106: Massively Distributed

Climate Modelling

Key concepts: climate models, computational power,
distributed networks

Attention Conservation Notice: It's a great idea. You can skip reading this Note, clink on the link and sign up for action right now.

Entries in the Viridian Solar Switchplate Contest: This contest expires November 20, 01999.

Source: NATURE magazine "Commentary" column
14 October 1999, page 642

"Do-it-yourself climate prediction

"Anyone with a home PC could join climate modellers in their attempt to forecast how the Earth's climate will evolve in the next century"

by Myles Allen (

(((Myles Allen is: "Space Science and Technology Department, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Chilton, Didcot,OXON OX11 0QX Britain. NERC Advanced Research Fellow and Head, Climate Dynamics Section; Visiting Fellow in Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics, University of Oxford." In other words, the real article! Not a crank! It's a serious pitch!)))


"As long as politicians only propose targets that they think they can sell to a generally indifferent electorate, it seems unlikely that we will achieve the order-of- magnitude reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions required to make a significant impact on the problem. And as long as climate research remains confined to large, centralized institutions, this indifference is likely to remain. (...)

"Hundreds of thousands of 50-year integrations would be required to explore all the relevant parameter combinations in a full-scale climate model. This is well beyond the capacity of current or planned modelling facilities. Or is it? (...)

"More than a million volunteers are currently scanning radio-telescope data on their home PCs for sings of extraterrestrial intelligence. Could a similar number be recruited for the more practical, albeit more demanding, task of forecasting the climate of the twenty-first century? (...) This in itself would be helpful for counteracting the powerful lobby still promoting the notion that there is nothing to worry about. (...) The ability to perform million-member ensemble simulations, even at relatively coarse resolution, would profoundly affect climate modelling."

(((The sublime grandeur of this concept speaks for itself. While climate models are not a panacea, there's no question that Viridian computers should be chewing this data in their spare time. We've got the machinery, this is our cause, and this well-meaning British scientist needs popular encouragement to get his proposal off the ground. Go hit his website, sign up now, and tell everybody you know.)))


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