New software projects could help with future climate science

“Earth &mdash My proposal is to reconstruct the whole data set every 100 years in the cloud using computers that run about 100,000 times faster than the ones we have today, with the aim of having them accessible for free. Our model would make maps available for one month, and then be pulled back to the most recent available data,” they write.

Between the lines: The creators of the project hope to show how climate data could be used to help prevent devastating and irreversible climate change. By using new, state-of-the-art research data and drawing on sophisticated computer models, the software would be able to reconstruct data about the climate at different times throughout Earth’s history. The aim is to help future generations learn how humans’ impact on the planet is currently affecting the global climate.

The details: Their software has been designed to be as simple to use as a Google Docs spreadsheet to assemble data sets from government agencies, UN agencies and other groups to create maps of changes over time. They currently have a team of 45 scientists and engineers writing code for the project.

I was able to download an early copy of the computer software and attempt to build a map to see how climate change was affecting the southern states of America in the 1990s. But there are problems with the software: Several times during the project, I would have to download and load the previous year’s data from NASA and places around the world because the software couldn’t make the connection.

the software couldn’t make the connection. The closest the software got to reconstructing the actual atmospheric conditions in that timeframe was to use a weather balloon to create different colored circles around the U.S. country. This showed that there was a significant temperature increase in southern and middle America in the 1990s, when it normally averages about a 2-degree Fahrenheit decrease. However, the space-based balloon data also showed that parts of the U.S. experienced drought and droughts.

The future of mapping: This is just a pilot project to recreate historical data, and the project needs to be enhanced before it could be used to help detect trends that humans are currently affecting the global climate. The creators envision one day having researchers share the data they have gathered from the Earth’s climate.

Donna Weiss, a climate scientist at Penn State, said in an email that she would like to see the software also use what scientists refer to as “added value information”: Local weather, such as whether it was a heavy rain or a freak heatwave. Weather sensors capture temperature, humidity and winds, but they can’t tell if the winds are unseasonably strong or whether the rain is coming down hard or not.

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