New climate modelling computer provides more reliable risk analyses

Enhanced computing capability will make it possible to gain new insights on climate change. On Tuesday, August 23, the climate modelling computer Tornado was inaugurated by Lena Sommestad, who is Environment Minister in Sweden.


Current research reports on climatic evolution unanimously concur that global temperature and precipitation are in a state of change. The extent global warming will reach in the future depends largely on the quantity of future carbon dioxide emission, but scientists need to explore several other uncertainty factors. For instance, what regions can be expected to be bear the brunt of climatic change, and just how commonplace will devastating storms, rain torrents and extreme heat waves be in the future.

A powerful new computer is now available for highly detailed climate studies by Swedish research teams at Rossby Centre (a unit of the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, SMHI) and the Department of Meteorology at Stockholm University. This climate modelling computer, designed and hosted by the National Supercomputer Centre at Linköping University, is dedicated to the development of climate scenarios and the assessment of how climate change might influence regional conditions. Especially the Arctic climate and the Baltic Sea will be focal points for study.

Environment Minister Lena Sommestad officially launched the climate modelling computer Tornado on Tuesday August 23 at Linköping University. She stressed the significance of access to upgraded computing power. “Concurrent with our task to reduce greenhouse gases, we must seek knowledge about the effects of climate change, on both global and local levels. This supercomputer can provide us with much needed material for political decision-making.”

A key speaker at the inauguration ceremony was Professor Emeritus Bert Bolin who previously served at Stockholm University. He pointed out, “This expansion of our computing resources will enable Swedish scientists to participate more dynamically in the ongoing European collaboration that is investigating climatic variability. The most significant result of this tool will be more reliable risk analyses of anticipated climatic development.”

Director-General Maria Ågren at the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute emphasized the importance of upgraded computer capacity. “This enhanced computing capability is a giant step forward. Tornado will not only enable more calculations to be made at the same time, but these will be more detailed and cover a greater geographical area. Moreover, we will be better able to understand climate development in now unpredictable areas.

Tornado is funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, a Swedish research and educational endowment fund.

Tornado will make previous climate computer resources available. These will continue to be used to develop numerical models and regional scenarios for the scientific community of Scandinavia and the rest of Europe.

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