Who Will Screensave Us Now?
Big climate-modeling experiment predicts disaster
A worldwide, collaborative climate-modeling study has produced its first results, and the news is not good. More than 95,000 volunteers from 150 countries participated in the study by downloading a program, run as a screensaver, which created slightly different climate simulations on each computer and sent them back to researchers. The distributed effort exceeded the processing power of any existing supercomputer and logged the equivalent of more than 8,000 years of computer time in just 16 months. The models generated by the study suggest that when CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere reach twice pre-industrial levels — a point that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has pegged at roughly mid-century — global increases in temperature ranging from 3.6 to 19.8 degrees Fahrenheit will follow close behind. This is roughly twice the increase predicted by previous studies. Said lead project scientist David Stainforth, “When you start to look at these temperatures, I get very worried indeed.”