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Petascale climate modeling heats up at University of Miami
Date:9/4/2008

VIRGINIA KEY, Fla. The development of powerful supercomputers capable of analyzing decades of data in the blink of an eye mark a technological milestone capable of bringing comprehensive changes to science, medicine, engineering, and business worldwide. Researchers at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, collaborating with NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research), COLA (Center for Ocean-Land-Atmospheric Studies) and the University of California at Berkeley are utilizing a $1.4M award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to generate new "petascale" computer models depicting detailed climate dynamics, and building the foundation for the next generation of complex climate models.

The speed of supercomputing is measured in how many calculations can be performed in a given second. Petascale computers can make 1000000000000000 calculations per second, a staggeringly high rate even when compared to supercomputers. And though true "peta" processing is currently rare, the anticipated availability of petascale computing offers a golden opportunity for climate simulation and prediction scientists to dramatically advance Earth system science and help to improve quality of life on the planet.

For decades researchers assumed that, in some sense, weather and climate were independent. In other words, the large-scale climate determined the environment in which weather events formed, but weather had no impact on climate. However, investigators are finding evidence that weather has a profound impact on climate; a finding that is of paramount importance in the drive to improve weather and climate predictions, as well as climate change projections.

With this boost in computing capabilities, the research team led by Dr. Ben Kirtman, professor of meteorology and physical oceanography at the University of Miami, has developed a novel weather and climate modeling strategy, or "interactive ensembles," spe
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Contact: Barbra Gonzalez
barbgo@rsmas.miami.edu
305-421-4704
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science
Source:Eurekalert

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