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Infrastructure for the European Network for Earth System modelling - Phase 2

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Better models to inform on the Earth’s past and future climate

Evidence of climate change highlights the need for ever-more sophisticated numerical models to better understand the mechanisms that shape the Earth’s climate and predict its evolution. An EU-funded project has boosted Europe’s contribution to this field of ongoing international research effort and facilitated the distribution and exploitation of model data.

Digital Economy
Climate Change and Environment
Fundamental Research

Since the Earth’s climate is a highly complex system encompassing atmosphere, ocean, land and ice dynamics and their physical and biogeochemical interactions, scientists also refer to climate models as Earth system models (ESMs). The IS-ENES2 (Infrastructure for the European Network for Earth System modelling - Phase 2) project was established by the European Network for Earth System modelling (ENES) to better understand and predict climate variability and change. This was achieved by providing the necessary e-infrastructure, involving a combination of digital technology, computational resources, and communications to support collaborative work and research. IS-ENES, the European infrastructure for climate modelling supports the European contribution to the international experiments of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP). The resulting data, gathered in the distributed international Earth System Grid Federation (ESGF) database, is used extensively in assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and provides modelling results on which EU mitigation and adaptation policies are based. Regional and international cooperation ‘Building on the results of its predecessor project, IS-ENES2 helped to integrate the European Earth’s climate system modelling community and to improve the development of ESMs,’ explains project coordinator Dr Sylvie Joussaume. ‘It also facilitated the use of ESM simulations to better understand climate change impacts on society by improving the dissemination of model results from both global and regional experiments developed under WCRP.’ The climate modelling community has always ensured that their models keep abreast of the latest developments in computer architecture. Thus, IS-ENES2 also underpinned technology tracking and community foresight to prepare for the challenge of future ‘exascale’ architectures. At this scale, a billion billion calculations will be performed per second, enabling climate models to be run at much higher resolutions, resulting in major scientific advances. Dedicated workshops on environmental software tools, such as those needed for configuration management, metadata creation and workflow, provided an opportunity to share experience and best practices among software engineers from different modelling groups. ‘For the first time, different coupling technologies from Europe and USA have been benchmarked using a common approach,’ says Dr Joussaume. Preparing for our future climate The central point of entry to IS-ENES2 services, the ENES Portal, integrates information on European climate models and provides access to the models and software required for model simulations, as well as to simulation data, metadata and processing utilities. Furthermore, joint research activities have contributed to enhance efficiency of models, in particular with respect to the exploitation of HPC resources, and of access to model results with regard to data and metadata, contributing to the development of international standards and databases. ‘Thanks to IS-ENES2, European teams have played an important role in the development of the international database ESGF for the internationally coordinated experiments CMIP and CORDEX (the Coupled Model Intercomparison Projects and Coordinated Regional Downscaling Experiments),’ states Dr Joussaume. ‘These reference simulations are used extensively to inform policy both on mitigation and adaptation, as well as a reference in IPCC assessment reports and as a basis for national and European assessments.’ IS-ENES2 not only serves the climate modelling community, but also those studying the impacts of climate change on different sectors, such as agriculture, hydrology, health and insurance. It also supports innovation through collaboration with information and communication technologies and the use of model results by European climate services.

Keywords

Earth system models, IS-ENES2, World Climate Research Programme, Earth System Grid Federation, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

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