After 75 days running on the 43,000-core, 1.21 petaflop Discover supercomputer cluster at the Goddard Centre for Climate Simulation, producing 4 PB of data, NASA has put together a global model showing how atmospheric carbon dioxide – CO2 – gets distributed in air currents around the world.
The model is based on observations from a bunch of different sources, including decades' worth of ground-based observations and data from the space-based Orbital Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite launched in July.
That combination has delivered up enough data for the space agency to produce what it believes is the world's first global computer model “to show in such fine detail how carbon dioxide actually moves through the atmosphere”.
In what's called a “Nature Run”, the GEOS-5 computer model released by NASA simulates the period between May 2005 and June 2007. The release explains that its nature run “ingests real data on atmospheric conditions” as well as greenhouse gas emissions and man-made particulates.
After several years tweaking the Nature Run in beta, the scientists have released the current version at SC14 in New Orleans.
NASA says the Nature Run's modelling will help researchers trace the pathways CO2 takes from the source of emission to the atmosphere and to carbon sinks like oceans and forests. The agency notes that the Nature Run “also simulates winds, clouds, water vapour and airborne particles such as dust, black carbon, sea salt and emissions from industry and volcanoes”.
It works on a grid that's 50 km wide and resolves it to a much-finer 7 km output.
As well as the video, there are detailed views of different parts of the world here. ®