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Climate change: Global challenge, global grid

With the US still suffering under the most severe drought conditions in its entire history, wildfires raging in Siberia, and Artic sea ice melting on an unprecedented scale, the need to tackle climate change has never been greater. Key to mitigation efforts is the ability of scientists to further understand climate change and its likely consequences across the globe. Of course, doing this requires an awful lot of data, and an awful lot of sharing. This is where ESGF comes in.

ESGF is the Earth Systems Grid Federation, a data network that spans the globe. It enables over 25,000 climate researchers from 2,700 sites on six continents to share data in their quest to improve understanding of climate change and extreme weather events. The orange markers on this map show the research institutions that accessed ESGF data in 2009 to 2010. They show the enormous global effort that the project truly is.

ESGF map Map showing institutions that accessed ESGF data over a two-year period. Image courtesy Gary Strand, NCAR.

To ensure data passes reliably from continent to continent and from researcher to researcher, ESnet engineers work with the research community to identify performance problems across multiple networks. Once a problem is identified, the engineers work with scientists to address the root cause and ensure that data can flow at the speed the science requires. This means that experts - the atmospheric scientists, climatologists, and meteorologists - can focus purely on research, rather than combatting network issues.

All research data is published to an online portal, which can be accessed here.

- Adrian Giordani

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