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Prototype of Arctic climate reanalysis unveiled

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Senior research scientist David H. Bromwich has unveiled a low-resolution prototype of the first comprehensive climate reconstruction of the entire arctic system. Working from his laboratory at The Ohio State University’s Byrd Polar Research Center (BPRC), Bromwich and his Arctic System Reanalysis (ASR) research team are leveraging the powerful computing and storage resources of the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) to synthesise historical weather data from a region of nearly 29 million square miles – everything north of Minneapolis, Minn.; Turin, Italy; and the Black Sea.

The team is integrating multiple enormous databases containing 11 years of satellite readings and direct observations of the Arctic atmosphere/sea-ice/land-surface system. The time period corresponds to the 1999 launch of the NASA spacecraft named Terra, a polar-orbiting climate research satellite.

When completed, Bromwich’s National Science Foundation project will provide a high-resolution description of the high-latitude expanse in dimensions of altitude (71 layers), space (every 10 kilometers) and time (every three hours).

‘The ASR, which can be viewed as a blend of modelling and observations, will ingest historical data streams along with measurements of the physical components of the Arctic Observing Network developed as part of the global scientific project known as the International Polar Year,’ explained Bromwich, who earned his doctorate in meteorology in 1979.

To generate the complex visualisations, the ASR group has processed the information using more than 1,000 cores of OSC’s IBM 1350 Opteron ‘Glenn Cluster’ over the last couple of months. The data accumulated for, and generated by, the model will eventually fill hundreds of terabytes of disk space on the center’s IBM Mass Storage System.

‘I think the model is giving very reasonable results,’ said Lesheng Bai, a research associate at BPRC. ‘We’ve had to resolve several issues with the model physics, because of the challenging conditions in the Arctic. But, the model is running well at this coarse spatial resolution.’