Electricity is very expensive in Colorado because of green energy regulations, so NCAR is building their latest climate supercomputer in Wyoming.
New Wyoming supercomputer expected to boost atmospheric science The National Center for Atmospheric Research’s machine is one of the fastest computers ever built, its sheer speed designed to burst through the limits of chaos theory.
The National Center for Atmospheric Research’s supercomputer has been dubbed Yellowstone, after the nearby national park, but it could have been named Nerdvana. The machine will have 100 racks of servers and 72,000 core processors, so many parts that they must be delivered in the back of a 747. Yellowstone will be capable of performing 1.5 quadrillion calculations — a quadrillion is a 1 followed by 15 zeros — every second.
That’s nearly a quarter of a million calculations, each second, for every person on Earth. In a little more than an hour, Yellowstone can do as many calculations as there are grains of sand on every beach in the world.
“These are chaotic systems, but it’s just math,” said Richard Loft, director of technology development at NCAR’s Computational and Information Systems Laboratory. “We play statistics in the climate game. We feed in the basic laws of science, and out comes something that looks like the Earth’s climate. It’s an instrument. This is a mathematical telescope.”
I know Richard, and he is a very bright computer scientist. The problem is that many of “the basic laws of science” are not understood and not modeled. For example, clouds can’t be modeled with any degree of accuracy more than a few minutes in advance. Scientists also have little predictive skill for ocean patterns like ENSO more than a few weeks in advance.
NCAR can throw a ton of hardware at climate modeling, but all it will do is generate GIGO faster than before.