The University of Utah’s National Center for Supercomputing Applications, a nonprofit group funded by Google, Microsoft, and others, has given $200,000 toward a project to develop a new kind of supercomputing system that would “support the continuous improvement of global warming mitigation efforts.”
The project, called Adaptive Global Climate Response (AGCR), is a collaboration between NASA and the University of Colorado Boulder, which is the lead project developer.
The researchers are using a variety of technologies, including supercomputers and cloud-computing systems, to analyze how heat from volcanoes, aerosols, and snow melt are driving climate change and help mitigate its impacts.
“The goal is to create a scalable global climate control system that can operate in multiple environments, including climate change, extreme weather, extreme drought, and more,” said Paul Ziemann, who oversees the project at the National Center.
Zieman told Ars he’s hoping to build a new generation of supercomputer that can run on a single chip at any time.
“I would like to build systems that can be deployed anywhere on the planet, and in any climate, at any scale, without any bottlenecks,” he said.
AGCR’s architecture can be built on existing computing resources and can be scaled up to handle larger and more complex applications, Ziemamp said.
“With a single core we can do supercomputation that is as large as a human brain,” he added.
A more detailed look at AGCR and how it works can be found at the UCSD site.
AGRCs and other climate control systems would be able to do more than simply monitor temperature and precipitation, said Ziem, who also leads a NASA project to build one.
AGCRS would be capable of predicting changes in atmospheric and oceanic moisture levels and would also be able “to provide information on the current state of vegetation, such as rainfall, heat, and moisture,” he explained.
The technology could be used for forecasting extreme events such as floods, droughts, and extreme weather such as heat waves.
“It’s really important that we know how climate change is affecting us,” Ziem said.
That includes, he said, “how to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
It’s also important that you know how to adapt.”
AGCRCs are already built on the Internet, but Ziemman said that in the future they’ll likely be able work directly with the users.
“We will have some of our customers actually be able on a server, or be able remotely, and it will be the same infrastructure that we use on the web,” he told Ars.
“But what we’re doing is creating the infrastructure that enables us to provide this information.”
The researchers will need to find a way to get funding to build the system.
“Currently, we are able to build some of these [systems] on the backend,” Zemann said.
The group is working on the next step, he added, “which is to make it available as open source.”
The group also has a few other big projects planned for the next few years, including one to build new, high-speed, ultra-computers.
Zemamp noted that the group is also working on a “very exciting project” that could eventually lead to “a supercomputer with a terabyte of memory, or a supercomputer of 10 terabytes.”
The UCSD group has been a major supporter of climate-focused research in recent years, and the UCSB project is expected to be a major part of that work.
Ars reached out to the University for comment and will update this story if we hear back.
Ars has reached out for comment to Google, which was not immediately available for comment.