CORVALLIS, Ore. An international group of scientists from the United Kingdom, South Africa and the United States is collaborating on a fascinating new climate modeling initiative using the idle computers of thousands of citizens to create a network of digital power that surpasses that of the best supercomputers.
Oxford University launched the initial effort in 2003 and its "climateprediction.net" project has used hundreds of volunteers to test climate simulation models. Now that effort is expanding to look at regional, as well as global climate modeling, specifically in southern Africa, Europe and the western United States, and broadening the scope of its volunteers.
Oregon State University is leading the effort on the western U.S. portion of the study, building on initial work done at the University of Washington. Pennsylvania State University has joined with the University of Cape Town to look at South African climate.
The rationale, scientists say, is simple.
"In less than two months, we can run 40,000 different year-long climate simulation models with our network of volunteers," said Philip Mote, director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute at OSU and one of the principal investigators on the project. "A dedicated supercomputer, during that time, could simulate a couple hundred years worth of data.
"It's exciting that both climate modeling and computer technology have advanced to the point that people at home can contribute to the effort to study climate change," he added.
Microsoft Research provided initial funding for the West Coast portion of the project; additional support for the research has come from the Bureau of Land Management in Oregon and Washington, the California Energy Commission, and the U.S. Geological Survey.
"By bringing together citizen volunteers, public institutions, and private corporations across three continents, the Climateprediction.net 'Weather at Home'
|Contact: Philip Mote|
Oregon State University