Data on climate change is digested by monster supercomputer “Quokka”.

A supercomputer that “takes just a second to perform a calculation that would take a human 1.5 billion years” has been harnessed to the fight against global warming, and the Western Australian government has hooked up the silicon monster to make the 75th planet possible -year-old climate model. change projections.

The Pawsey Supercomputing Research Centre’s giant ‘Setonix’ machine – actually an expandable array of Cray machines working as a unit – is tasked with producing “the most reliable and comprehensive climate change forecasts for Western Australia by the end of the century”.

The projections are part of preparations for more intense extreme weather events such as hurricanes, floods and bushfires, the WA government said, and will help “better protect WA’s unique biodiversity and support key investment decisions in energy infrastructure, planning and regional development.” .

Processing data on climate change is an enormously computationally intensive task.

That’s because computational weather modeling is already required and a number of other multiplying factors are added. But the data is paying off because it allows scientists to literally act against the changes in the environment and the likely impacts — like flooding — that those changes would bring.

Supercomputers used to look like the inside of the TARDIS. But the machines are now so large, expensive, and power-hungry that they’re generally rented to run workloads rather than owned by organizations. However, weather bureaus and the military usually have enough load to run their own rigs.

Pawsey’s Setonix rig (Setonix is ​​the real name for the lovable Quokka) weighs a whopping 45 tons, runs 12 kilometers of optical cable (copper is too slow), and has processing power described as “the equivalent of 150,000 laptops working in unison.” is touted. .

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It’s still expanding, but the giant Quokka is being upgraded to more than 200,000 cores (central processing units), and after that there’s still room for computer revolutionaries.

The project is led by the WA Department of Water and Environmental Regulation’s Climate Science Initiative in partnership with the New South Wales Government, Murdoch University and the Pawsey Supercomputing Research Centre.

The Big Quokka works by breaking down climate change into localized data fests.

“Global climate models divide the earth into grid cells of 100 to 250 kilometers. These cells are often too large to study the effects of climate change at the local scale, where different climate events can occur within the same grid,” the WA Government said.

“The Climate Science Initiative will produce more detailed four-kilometer grid-scale projections initially for the southwest of the state to provide localized information to guide policy and decision-making.

“The Northwest is covered by national climate projections on a 20 kilometer grid.

“Setonix is ​​the scientific name for quokka. It fits, WA is presented again on the world stage. The supercomputer is 30 times more powerful than its predecessors at peak performance and 10 times more energy efficient,” said Climate Protection Minister Reece Whitby.

“The capabilities of the supercomputer are extraordinary. It is a significant recognition of our state and the nation’s investment in taking action on climate change.”


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