Quantcast

CO2 Gauging Supercomputer Has Huge Carbon Footprint

January 20, 2009

A massive supercomputer intended to gauge the affect of climate change in the UK, will ironically be a huge emitter of greenhouse gases.

The Met Office’s new IBM supercomputer, which cost more than $46 million, is expected to begin operations later this year. It will emit an estimated 14,000 tons of CO2 each year, according to Dave Britton, the Met Office’s chief press officer. It will be the second most powerful machine in Britain, with the ability to perform 125 trillion calculations per second.

But Alan Dickinson, Met Office Director of Science, said the benefits of running the massive supercomputer outweigh the risks.

“We recognize that running such massive computers consumes huge amounts of power and that our actions in weather and climate prediction, like all our actions, have an impact on the environment. We will be taking actions to minimize this impact,” said Dickinson.

“Our next supercomputer will bring an acceleration in action on climate change through climate mitigation and adaptation measures as a consequence of a clearer understanding of risk. Ultimately this will lead to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.”

Supercomputers such as the one purchased by the Met Office are crucial in that they are the only way to assess the potential damage that could incurred as a result of global warming.

In a recent report, the Met Office said that temperatures are expected to rise globally between 5.5 degrees and 7 degrees Celsius if no action is taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Early and rapid reductions in CO2 emissions are required to avoid significant impacts of climate change,” it concluded.

The Met Office’s current supercomputer produces 10,000 tons of CO2 annually, Dickinson said.

“This is a fraction of the CO2 emissions we save through our work. We estimate that for the European aviation industry alone our forecasts save emissions close to 3 million tons by improving efficiency,” he said

“Our next supercomputer will bring an acceleration in action on climate change through climate mitigation and adaptation measures as a consequence of a clearer understanding of risk. Ultimately this will lead to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.”

On the Net:




comments powered by Disqus