Researchers tackle next-generation climate models

Apr 16, 2013 by Julie Chao
Berkeley lab tackles next-generation climate models
A Community Atmosphere Model version 5 (CAM5) visualization of water vapor.

Tornadoes, twisting winds that descend from thunderheads, and derechos, winds that race ahead of a straight line of storms, are just two varieties of extreme weather events whose frequency and violence are on the increase. To keep up with nature, climate models are running at ever-higher resolutions, requiring ever-greater processing speeds and altered computer architectures.

Michael Wehner is a in the Division (CRD) of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who focuses on just such extreme weather events. He notes that simulations run with a low-resolution climate model can give completely contrary results from a high-resolution version of the same model.

"My conclusion from a 100-kilometer model is that in the future we will see an increased number of hurricanes," Wehner says, but a more realistic simulation from 25-kilometer model yields a highly significant difference: "The total number of hurricanes will decrease but the number of very intense storms will increase."

Finer resolution in time as well as space is what pumps up the yield. "To look at you need high-frequency data," says Wehner. "A model run can produce 100 terabytes of output." That's 100 trillion basic processing units.

It's the reason why a dataset that would take Wehner 411 days to crunch on a single-processor computer takes 12 days on Hopper, a massively parallel supercomputer at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) at Berkeley Lab. That's still not good enough. Wehner thinks it should take an hour.

Models that can now process petabytes (a quadrillion bytes) per second will soon need to accommodate exabytes (a quintillion bytes) per second. John Shalf, Berkeley Lab researcher and NERSC's , is leading an effort to achieve exascale performance.

"Data explosion is occurring everywhere in the Department of Energy ... genomics, experimental , light sources, climate," Shalf says. "We need to rethink our computer design."

What was once the most important factor in computer performance will soon become the least important. "In 2018 the cost of FLOPS" – floating point operations per second – "will be among the least expensive aspects of a machine, and the cost of moving data across the chip will be the most expensive. That's a perfect technology storm." To rise above it, Shalf says, "We're simulating hardware before it is built," modeling hardware for exascale systems to predict their performance.

"Tools of yesteryear are incapable of answering these questions on climate," says Shalf's colleague Wes Bethel, who heads CRD's Visualization Group. But he stresses the good news. "Datasets are getting larger, but there's more interesting science and physics hidden in the data, which creates opportunities for asking more questions."

Berkeley Lab recently hosted the fifteenth in a series of annual workshops bringing together top climatologists and computer scientists from Japan and the United States to exchange ideas for the next generation of climate models, as well as the hyper-performance computing environments that will be needed to process their data.

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User comments : 14

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verkle
2.5 / 5 (18) Apr 16, 2013
Tornadoes...and...derechos...are just two varieties of extreme weather events whose frequency and violence are on the increase.


When the article starts out by making a false statement, the rest of it doesn't have much impact.

Look at this NOAA provided tornado trend:
http://www1.ncdc....-EF5.png

It does not show an increase in tornadoes, but a decrease. The decrease is probably even more, because general tornado detection has improved much through the years.

VendicarE
2.9 / 5 (14) Apr 16, 2013
Verkle shows a subset of Tornados, and excludes the less intense ones.

Here is a plot of the full count.

http://www.newsof...arge.jpg

http://www.wunder...reme.asp
NotParker
2.6 / 5 (15) Apr 16, 2013
"extreme weather events whose frequency and violence are on the increase."

Nonsense. The historical evidence is just the opposite.
NotParker
2.7 / 5 (14) Apr 16, 2013
Verkle shows a subset of Tornados, and excludes the less intense ones.


Because Doppler Radar did not exist in the past and less intense ones were not recorded.

In the same way, Tropical Storms that would never have been seen in the past get names and disappear in a few days and caused zero damage.
ScooterG
2.2 / 5 (17) Apr 17, 2013
AGW has been a lie from the start. There's no reason to believe the lies won't continue.
runrig
3.8 / 5 (10) Apr 17, 2013
AGW has been a lie from the start. There's no reason to believe the lies won't continue.


Look scoot sunshine - just by calling something does not make it so. You're gaining the support of your own constituency, yes. But why bother? The rest ( majority ) of us, on this SCIENCE site do not agree and your pissing into the wind wont change our minds. If it helps go and scream out in a field somewhere at the dead of night. It'll do about as much good. I still believe mankind in the majority, has passed the Dark Ages of the inquisition by.
NotParker
2 / 5 (12) Apr 17, 2013
AGW has been a lie from the start. There's no reason to believe the lies won't continue.


Look scoot sunshine - just by calling something does not make it so.


Thats why a I usually provide many links and references. Which you ignore.

AGW is cult. Sure, they had to change the name from Global Warming to Climate Change when the warming stopped ... which would have been a clue if AGW was "science" based and not a cult.
runrig
3.7 / 5 (9) Apr 17, 2013
AGW has been a lie from the start. There's no reason to believe the lies won't continue.

Look scoot sunshine - just by calling something does not make it so.

Thats why I usually provide many links and references. Which you ignore. AGW is cult. Sure, they had to change the name from Global Warming to Climate Change when the warming stopped ... which would have been a clue if AGW was "science" based and not a cult.

No links were necessary in that post. When they are I will.
CC was adopted because the hard of scientific thought processing couldn't conceive what "Global" meant, particularly in the US where as any visiting European knows, the news channels don't venture beyond Hawaii and natives think Athens is in Georgia. They just looked out of their windows and if it was snowing, their tiny minds thought the whole world was. CC therefore suits the Denialists because, well, the climate has changed ... if only in your back yard. Oh and a cult is a minority
deepsand
2.8 / 5 (9) Apr 17, 2013
AGW has been a lie from the start. There's no reason to believe the lies won't continue.


Look scoot sunshine - just by calling something does not make it so.


Thats why a I usually provide many links and references. Which you ignore.

Citations that are worthless for anything other than highlighting the duplicity and stupidity of you and your ilk.
antigoracle
2 / 5 (8) Apr 18, 2013
Verkle shows a subset of Tornados, and excludes the less intense ones.

Here is a plot of the full count.

http://www.newsof...arge.jpg

Another link from the site referenced by Vendicar
http://www.newsof...politics
deepsand
2.5 / 5 (8) Apr 18, 2013
Another link from the site referenced by Vendicar
http://www.newsof...politics

And, one which does nothing to address the empirical facts re. event counts, one which is no more than a sophomoric attempt at evasion by misdirection.
antigoracle
2.2 / 5 (10) Apr 18, 2013
Another link from the site referenced by Vendicar
http://www.newsof...politics

And, one which does nothing to address the empirical facts re. event counts, one which is no more than a sophomoric attempt at evasion by misdirection.

Yep. Everyone else is wrong, only the Alarmist Turds are right. Burn the heretics.
deepsand
3 / 5 (10) Apr 19, 2013
Yet another example of AO's evading by misdirection.

Egleton
3 / 5 (8) Apr 21, 2013
In 5 years time the arctic will be ice free in summer.
No models and graphs will need to be consulted, no web pages quoted.
You think that there is a silver lining? South central Europe will become as dry as the sahara.
Oh, Thats right. You don't live in south central Europe.

I am unsure which is more repugnant, those who lie for money or Stalin's useful idiots.