Kitware Part of Team to Address Climate Change Issues

February 25, 2015

Project Uses HPC Resources to Help Scientists Better Understand Global Climate Change

High-performance computing (HPC) will be used to develop and apply the most complete climate and Earth system model to address the most challenging and demanding climate change issues. This is the charge given by the Department of Energy (DOE) to eight national laboratories, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, four academic institutions, and Kitware.

The Accelerated Climate Modeling for Energy, or ACME, project is designed to accelerate the development and application of fully-coupled, state-of-the-art Earth system models for scientific and energy applications that can exploit advanced software and new high-performance computing machines as they become available. A list of participating national laboratories is available on the DOE’s Climate and Earth System Modeling website and includes Lawrence Livermore, Argonne, Lawrence Berkeley, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, and Pacific Northwest.

The initial scientific development will focus on three climate change science drivers (water cycle, biochemistry, and cryosphere systems), which cover broad, important areas of science to produce more accurate simulation and prediction of climate change. Questions of interest include: How do the hydrological cycle and water resources interact with the climate system on local to global scales? How do biogeochemical cycles interact with global climate change? How do rapid changes in cryospheric systems interact with the climate system?

“Understanding climate change is critical in today’s society,” Aashish Chaudhary, Kitware’s Principal Investigator for the project and Technical Leader, said. “Using sophisticated HPC resources to further develop state-of-the-art Earth system models will help us answer important water cycle, biogeochemistry, and cryosphere questions to greatly advance climate study.”

The DOE’s Office of Biological and Environmental Research awarded $19 million for the first year of the decadal-scale project. Over the 10-year span, simulations and modeling will be conducted on the most sophisticated HPC machines as they become available, i.e., 100-plus petaflop machines and, eventually, exascale supercomputers. The team will initially use Office of Science Leadership Computing Facilities at Oak Ridge and Argonne national laboratories for the project.

For each science driver, a question was selected to be answered in a three-year time range. Further questions will be answered over the course of the 10-year project. Questions to be answered in the next three years include: How will more realistic portrayals of features important to the water cycle (resolution, clouds, aerosols, snowpack, river routing, and land use) affect river flow and associated freshwater supplies at the watershed scale? How do carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus cycles regulate climate system feedback, and how sensitive are these feedback to model structural uncertainty? Could a dynamical instability in the Antarctic Ice Sheet be triggered within the next 40 years?

In regards to the water cycle, ACME’s Project Strategy and Initial Implementation Plan states that changes in river flow over the last 40 years have been dominated primarily by land management, water management, and climate change associated with aerosol forcing. During the next 40 years, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in a business-as-usual scenario will produce changes to river flow.

As the plan states, a goal of ACME is to simulate the changes in the hydrological cycle, with a specific focus on precipitation and surface water in orographically complex regions such as the western United States and the headwaters of the Amazon.

To address biogeochemistry, ACME researchers will examine how more complete treatments of nutrient cycles affect carbon-climate system feedback, with a focus on tropical systems, and investigate the influence of alternative model structures for below-ground reaction networks on global-scale biogeochemistry-climate feedback.

For cyrosphere, the team will examine the near-term risks of initiating the dynamic instability and onset of the collapse of the Antarctic Ice Sheet due to rapid melting by warming waters adjacent to the ice sheet grounding lines.

The experiment would be the first fully-coupled global simulation to include dynamic ice shelf-ocean interactions for addressing the potential instability associated with grounding line dynamics in marine ice sheets around Antarctica.

This material is based upon work supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, under Award Number DE-SC0012356.

This report was prepared as an account of work sponsored by an agency of the United States Government. Neither the United States Government nor any agency thereof, nor any of their employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government or any agency thereof. The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government or any agency thereof.

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