New funding will unlock powerful Australian simulators to give the world’s scientists a better chance of tackling climate change.
Canberra-based supercomputer Gadi, meaning “to search for” in the language of the Ngunnawal people, will do the number crunching.
The $7.6 million research centre unveiled on Thursday will share its computing power with citizen scientists, industry, international organisations, government agencies and university researchers.
Thousands of Australian scientists already rely on Gadi, the largest supercomputer in the southern hemisphere, for astronomy, medical research and climate and weather reports.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
The inaugural director of the new facility, Andy Hogg, said cutting-edge computer simulations and models will crack open climate change, extreme weather events, and past and future Earth systems.
“This will not only mean more powerful and insightful research, but hopefully better decisions for the pressing challenges and acute stresses our nation and world face,” Professor Hogg said.
But he says computer models are only as good as the people behind them.
“We are creating an open source weather, climate and Earth system modelling powerhouse that anyone across the globe will be able to access,” Prof Hogg said.
Based at the Australian National University, the Australian Community Climate and Earth System Simulator can calculate predicted weather and climate conditions from a few hours to many decades in the future.
The simulator can combine ocean, sea-ice and land surface information with chemical and biological data to model currents in the oceans, extreme rainfall and the pattern of droughts.
Acting ANU vice-chancellor Keith Nugent said the new facility means Australia can focus on the global climate as well as the Australasian region and southern hemisphere.
“It will also build the capability and capacity of Australian researchers and technicians in climate science, observations and high-performance computational modelling,” Professor Nugent said.
“It’s an investment in our nation’s know-how and our nation’s future.”
The simulator is funded by the federal government under a program for national research infrastructure.