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Infrastructure for the European Network for Earth System modelling - Phase 3

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - IS-ENES3 (Infrastructure for the European Network for Earth System modelling - Phase 3)

Reporting period: 2020-07-01 to 2021-12-31

IS-ENES3 implements the third phase of the distributed e-infrastructure of the European Network for Earth System Modelling (ENES). Its key goal is to stimulate collaboration, disseminate software and data, and further integrate the European climate modelling community. IS-ENES3 supports climate research, climate impact science, and the climate services industry, bringing down barriers of access, and expanding the community who can exploit the data and knowledge produced by state-of-the-art climate models and reference simulations. In doing so, IS-ENES3 aims to find innovative ways of working with the Copernicus programme, with other parts of the European data infrastructure, and with the high-performance computing and data analytics industries. IS-ENES3 partners combine expertise in climate modelling, computational science, data management, climate impacts and climate services, with proven ability to enhance the international influence of European science. Central to its role is the support to the international coordinated climate simulations of the World Climate Research Program (WCRP), which serve as a reference for IPCC Assessment reports.

IS-ENES3 is organised around three main objectives with the overarching goal of providing the infrastructure to better understand and project climate variability and change through technical excellence:
1. Pursue the integration of the Earth’s climate system modelling community and prepare the sustainability of its infrastructure;
2. Foster the common development of models and tools, and the efficient use of HPC; and
3. Support the exploitation of model data by the Earth system science community, the climate change impact community and the climate service community.

IS-ENES3 is structured around access services, networking and joint research activities. The delivery of the European part of the international Earth System Grid Federation (ESGF) is a central point of entry to services providing access to new data, software, models and tools are key activities in supporting the community. Joint research supports a new community sea ice model, promotes efficient use of high-performance computing, improves the European common model evaluation framework, and develops and enhances services around data. Extensive networking aims at growing the user base, increases the cohesion of the climate modelling community, promotes innovation and prepares for a long-term sustainable infrastructure in support of climate modelling.
IS-ENES3 supports the sixth phase of the WCRP Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, CMIP6, through the European support to ESGF for accessing data, as well as support to international standards for metadata and data conventions. During the first period, main community effort was devoted to the publication of data whereas the second period has intensively focused on accessing data and easing model analyses, contributing to the preparation of the IPCC 6th Assessment Report published in 2021.

At the end of 2021, more than 10 of the 22 Petabytes (PB) of CMIP6 data published on ESGF were hosted on European data nodes - including much data replicated from elsewhere to ease usage for the European user community. From mid-2020 to the end of 2021, 9.5 PB of data have been downloaded from European data nodes at an average rate of 530 TB per month, with over 7000 users per month worldwide. In addition to the downloads, many European users were able to access the data by directly accessing the local data nodes. New services were also established to make CMIP6 data compliant with FAIR data principles, including a citation service providing data citation and licence information and the issuing of persistent identifiers for all of CMIP6 files.

A series of training sessions and schools has allowed engagement with a wider community, especially to ease access to the climate impact community as well as those developing climate services. Special attention was given to engage with Eastern Europe climate scientists with, for example, a dedicated analysis of their specific requirements for climate indices.

IS-ENES3 is also strongly engaged at the international level in the development of the ESGF but also in the development and use of international standards such as the metadata common information model and the climate forecast convention used for climate model data. A roadmap for the future architecture of ESGF has been developed and the transition to a new architecture has started with the wider ESGF community.

The evaluation of climate models is important to assess confidence in model results. IS-ENES3 supports a common European tool for model evaluation, in particular its coupling with ESGF data to provide metrics on CMIP6 model data used in the IPCC AR6 report published in 2021, contributing to the production of 60 figures in 3 different chapters of this report.

Climate model codes also require regular developments, to better represent processes, to include new mechanisms of the complex climate system and also to improve their efficiency in using high-performance computers. IS-ENES3 has enhanced its service on models and tools, adding new tools such as an efficient parallel data server and a workflow scheduler. IS-ENES3 also supports community activities in climate modelling, such as the newly developed European platform for sea ice modelling, gathering expertise from previous three different models, and coupled to the European platform for ocean modelling.

As it is in its third phase, IS-ENES3 also prepares for sustainability. The software and services supporting the modelling and data-using community are long term activities, running well beyond the project horizon. A scoping phase has set the basis for long-term sustainability, focusing on the technical, scientific and legal aspects of a new collaborative entity, now being followed by a design phase.
IS-ENES3 plays a key role in supporting the ESGF database for reference climate model data. Not only by distributing European data but also by contributing to its development together with the USA and Australia. With over 15 000 users worldwide, this service plays a key role in climate science and in supporting IPCC reports. The use of model data is increasing with the development of climate services and, in Europe, the Copernicus Climate Change service is relying on the expertise of IS-ENES3. The ESGF is expected to further increase the user base, particularly in Eastern and Central Europe.

Further integrating the European climate modelling is another important objective of IS-ENES3 and it is expected to enhance the sharing of expertise and software beyond the current state of the art. This target is very challenging due to the complexity of climate models and associated software tools, and the slow adoption of new tools. However, it has the potential to enhance human resources efficiency. At the end of the project, it is expected to have a strong and sustained IS-ENES infrastructure, supported by an updated 10-year infrastructure strategy for the European Earth System Modelling community.
From climate models to informing policy decisions: the role of IS-ENES3