Distributed Computer Simulation of Catastrophic Global Warming Spreads

Lots of folks who saw the recent global warming blockbuster “The Day After Tomorrow” have what might charitably be called uncertainties about the veracity of the science behind the plot. Now, in the U.K., a consortium of universities and the Met Office (weather and environmental services) are offering computer users a way to play a role in fact-checking the film. They want to run a massive, distributed computer model to find out what would happen if, as in the film, the flow of the Gulf Stream was radically altered (not, they stress, whether it is likely to happen, but what would happen if it did). Problem is, running such a simulation requires more computational power than even the world’s most powerful computer contains — so the group is inviting participants to download unique software packages from climateprediction.net, each of which runs a slightly different, “physically probable” model in the background while the user does other stuff (say, reads Grist). The results are then sent to the project’s organizers. Stay tuned for a possible sequel!