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Project UPSCALE: JWCRP research team wins major European computing resources for global climate modelling

Digital Globe.

November 2011 - Computer-intensive simulation of weather and climate in the UK is taking a significant step forward today, as the Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE) Access Committee granted substantial computing resources to a Joint Weather & Climate Research Programme (JWCRP) team of researchers.

The team comprises climate scientists at the Met Office and at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) Climate, and is led by Pier Luigi Vidale, Willis Professor of Climate System Science and Climate Hazards at the University of Reading's Meteorology department and Director of the Weather and Climate Hazards Laboratory.

PRACE is an association of 21 member countries creating a pan-European research infrastructure for large-scale scientific and engineering applications at the highest performance level. PRACE has granted a significant amount of computing time to Professor Vidale's team on the brand newHERMIT supercomputer in Stuttgart, Germany. HERMIT is a so-called TIER-0 machine, the top class (petaflop and beyond) of supra-national European high-performance computing facilities. Out of the 53 project applications submitted to PRACE for peer-review, only 24 have been awarded a share of the available 610 million core-hours. The JWCRP team has been awarded 144 million core-hours computing time, the largest amount assigned to one team. For reference, this resource allocation corresponds to 45% of the total current computing time annually available through the HECToR facility (the largest UK supercomputer, classified as TIER-1).

For the successful UPSCALE project (UK on PRACE: weather-resolving Simulations of Climate for globAL Environmental risk), the team will use the time on HERMIT to conduct a series of 25-year simulations under both current climate conditions and a climate change scenario, using the Met Office Hadley Centre Global Environmental Model Version 3 (HadGEM3) at 25km horizontal resolution (essentially the same model as used for the Unified Model). Until now it has not been possible to perform extended climate runs with the HadGEM3 model at this resolution, and these experiments are expected to provide a hugely valuable resource for the study of current and future climate, complementing previous simulations at coarser resolutions.

The UPSCALE project capitalises on the joint climate modelling expertise brought together by the JWCRP partners. It will cement this fruitful collaboration for the benefit of UK climate research and society.

Professor Vidale said: "With our current level of resources on national TIER-1 machines, this experiment would take 33 years to complete. Access to HERMIT is a true quantum-leap for UK climate science. We are grateful to PRACE for the continued international recognition of our team's world-leading capability in climate modelling."

Dr Malcolm Roberts, senior Met Office scientist of the team, added: "This success demonstrates the value of the continued collaboration, now under JWCRP, and the importance of being able to carry out development on shared infrastructure, like the joint Met Office-NERC supercomputer MONSooN."

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