Some supercomputers can do more than 80 million calculations an hour! How fast could you do your math homework if you had a supercomputer?
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Modeling the Future of Climate Change
Predicting how our climate
in the next century or beyond requires tools for assessing how planet responds
to change. Global climate models, which are run on some of the world's fastest
supercomputers, allow scientists to better understand how the Earth
works and how it will react to changes in the future.
Global climate models use hundreds of different mathematical equations to describe
processes and interactions in the Earth system. The mathematical equations for
a large climate model require quick supercomputers that perform many calculations
rapidly, often more than 80 million calculations an hour.
The most sophisticated climate models take into account five important components:
For more information about climate models, visit the following pages:
What will the next century bring? According to scientists Tom Wigley (NCAR)
and Sarah Raper (Climate Research Unit, England) there is 90% probability that
temperatures will rise 1.8 to 4.0°C (3.1 to 7.2°F)
in the next 100 years as a result of human influences, assuming continued greenhouse
gas emissions. To put this amount of warming into perspective, remember that
in the past century, a smaller temperatures rise of only about 0.6°C (1.0
°F) has been able to disrupt many aspects of the Earth system.
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The Winter 2009 issue of The Earth Scientist
, focuses on Earth System science, including articles on student inquiry, differentiated instruction, geomorphic concepts, the rock cycle, and much more!
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