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Research & Collaboration

Research & Collaboration

12. 09. 12
Hermit Enables Study of Climate and Tempests

A team of climate scientists under Prof. Pier Luigi Vidale are using the computing power of HLRS’s Petascale System Hermit, working eagerly on gaining a better understanding of weather phenomena. The results of project UPSCALE will help try to make projections of tropical storms and other extreme weather features.

Tropical Atlantic storms such as just recently seen with hurricane ISAAC or its famous predecessor Katrina pose a serious threat to the lives and property of millions of people, causing an estimated US$26 billion in financial damages per year on average and uncountable more emotional and physical losses(1). The impact of such weather phenomena is projected to double by the end of the century, even without climate change and global warming(2).

For climate research project UPSCALE, appraised in the 3rd PRACE Call for Large Scale Projects, a total of 144.565.862 core hours on HLRS’s Cray XE6 system Hermit were granted to Prof. Vidale and his team—the largest allocation of computing core hours ever made on a single Tier-0 system in Europe. As HLRS primarily concentrates on research activities in the fields of health, energy, mobility and environment, Prof. Vidale’s UPSCALE project resolving global models of the atmosphere and oceans falls square into HLRS’s focus.   

“The UPSCALE project aims to increase fidelity of global climate simulations and our understanding of weather and climate risk, by representing fundamental weather and climate processes more completely. This will test and enhance our confidence in projections of climate change, including extremes,” Prof. Vidale said. “Resolving weather features is vital if global climate models are to produce realistic simulations of the mean climate, variability and extremes, particularly at regional and local scales,” he added.

To make progress on improved understanding of climate patterns, Prof. Vidale and his team pursue options to remove the need to rely on an empirical relationship between the number of storms and climate indicators. High resolution simulations of the atmosphere and ocean, such as made possible with the petascale computing power of Hermit, enable this approach. High-resolution models improve simulation of high-impact events, such as tropical cyclones, European blocking and associated European summer (2003 and 2010) and winter extremes (2009 and 2010). A global modelling approach helps climate scientists understand potentially connected high-impact events, such as the 2005 hurricane season and drought in the Amazon, the 2010 Russian heat wave and the Pakistan floods, as well as the influence of retreating Arctic sea-ice on European climate.

Prof. Pier Luigi Vidale is the Willis Chair of Climate System Science and Climate Hazards at the University of Reading Meteorology Dept. and Senior Scientist at NCAS-Climate in Reading.

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(1) Ed Hawkins and Pier Luigi Vidale, Nature Clim. Change 2, 574-575 (2012)
Mendelsohn, R. et al. Nature Clim. Change 2, 205-209 (2012).