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Webinar: What are the Limits of Modeling our Planet?

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Wednesday, 25 April 2018, 9:00

Wednesday, April 25, 2018. 9:00PM Eastern. Webinar: What are the Limits of Modeling our Planet. Richard Loft, NCAR. Sponsored by NCAR|UCAR. More information here.

Over the last half-century, our ability to shrink transistors has led to the exponential growth in computing power, giving scientists a powerful new tool: the computer model. Computers act like mathematical “telescopes”, enabling scientists to peer into problems that can’t be solved by human brainpower alone. One such problem is the behavior of that crucial, thin layer of fluids that enshrouds planet Earth – our atmosphere and oceans. Computer modeling of the atmosphere yielded steady improving weather forecasts, which has saved innumerable lives and property. Modeling of the interplay of the components in the Earth’s climate system has led to an understanding of the risks of greenhouse gas emissions, knowledge critical to ensuring the sustainability of human civilization and perhaps even life on Earth.

But nature teaches us that all exponential growth can’t go on indefinitely. While the end of the growth of computing power is not at hand just yet, challenges have emerged that suggest the “free lunch” era is over. The road ahead will be fraught with emerging limits on Earth system models in terms of computational speed, energy consumption, software complexity, and data volumes. Ideas for meeting each of these challenges, so we can continue to make scientific progress, is the focus of this public lecture.

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