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iSGTW Feature - Data processing playground for the climate of tomorrow


Feature - Data Processing Playground for the Climate of Tomorrow


A simulation of aerial runoff during the West African summer monsoon season. The high density of blue indicates high rainfall levels.
Image courtesy of Tim Brücher

Tim Brücher is trying to predict how raindrops will fall in a monsoon under changed climate conditions. As you can imagine, modeling future climates isn't exactly the easiest thing in the world. So guess what? Brücher's not using his PC to do it.

Brücher is part of the Collaborative Climate Community Data and Processing Grid (C3Grid), one of Germany's first grid initiatives and a project dedicated to creating a grid-based working environment for earth system research.

Brücher's personal interest in C3Grid is driven by his own data-processing requirements: as a meteorologist, he works every day with climate models, and specifically, the IMPETUS project, an initiative aiming for more efficient management of scarce water resources in West Africa.

"My particular interest lies in predicting how climate change will influence monsoons in Africa," he says. "Will it rain very intensively over a few days? Or will it rain consistently for 90 days? The answers to these questions can dramatically affect water quality and availability, and can have a strong impact on people and agriculture."

Climate models like those that Brücher works with produce terabits upon terabits of data every year. This data is often spread across the globe, isolated in individual computers, and far from the tools required to analyze it. This, says Brücher, is a problem that can be solved using grid technology.

Tim enjoys a bit of bad weather at the Baltic Sea. Perhaps one day grid technology will be able to help us better plan our holidays?
Image courtesy of Tim Brücher

"At C3 we're working on grid projects that will allow us to more easily analyze these masses of data. We want to use grids to create a playground where scientists can easily reach all different kinds of data, and have access to different workflows and different tools."

This "playground" will give scientists the freedom to explore a much wider variety of data, and thus to improve the accuracy of their climate models.

"Our models will never be perfect, but access to more data will allow us to improve their precision, which allows us to give more detailed feedback to the people who need it," he says. "The information our models provide can help people manage their agriculture under changed climate conditions, or help with handling future problems such as erosion."

Brücher works for the Institute for Geophysik and Meteorology and the Centre for Applied Computer Sciences, both at the University of Cologne. C3Grid is a subproject of the D-Grid Initiative and is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. It has been running since September 2005 and is still in its preliminary stages.

- Cristy Burne, iSGTW

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