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Earth Simulator Now Predicting Hurricanes?

simoniker posted about 11 years ago | from the but-not-godzilla dept.

Science 167

GeoGreg writes "The BBC is reporting that the Japanese Earth Simulator supercomputer is producing results showing that it is possible to model climate down to the level of severe weather events such as hurricanes. This computer has been discussed on Slashdot previously, and it sounds like at least some of the hype around this beastie was justified."

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Butterfly (5, Funny)

tgrasl (607606) | about 11 years ago | (#7112156)

Can It predict where to put the butterfly to stop them ?

Re:Butterfly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7112167)

Doesn't it works the other way around?
I thought butterflies caused them...

--
The ugliest web page ever [safemode.pt]

Re:Butterfly (1, Funny)

Entropy_ah (19070) | about 11 years ago | (#7112192)

Butterflies are the real terrorists.
-George W.

Re:Butterfly (1)

RandomWhiteMan (685768) | about 11 years ago | (#7112281)

"Because, nobody ever suspects the butterfly"
-Bart Simpson-

Re:Butterfly (1, Funny)

tgrasl (607606) | about 11 years ago | (#7112256)

I was working on the basis of 'equal and opposite action'. Although you're right - it might just be easier to eradicate all butterflies.

Re:Butterfly (1, Funny)

general_re (8883) | about 11 years ago | (#7112239)

Can It predict where to put the butterfly to stop them ?

It's not that finely-grained of a model yet, but the Japanese expect to influence the weather within the next few years by strategically placing Mothra....

Re:Butterfly (1, Funny)

hanssprudel (323035) | about 11 years ago | (#7112663)

It can, but unfortunately the fans needed to cool the supercomputer change everything so it becomes useless.

Heisenberg - why do you taunt us so?

MOD AWAY! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7112159)

Barbara Streisand DOG SHIT TACO!!

Wow, I wander (-1, Offtopic)

Worminater (600129) | about 11 years ago | (#7112160)

What a beowolf cluster of those could do...

as right as daily news forecast? can only hope for that 1/50 chance of success...

Re:Wow, I wander (1)

digitalunity (19107) | about 11 years ago | (#7112168)

I dunno about forecasts. But if they hooked up a couple of them in the same country it'd probably bring down the power grid :-}

Re:Wow, I wander (0)

nat5an (558057) | about 11 years ago | (#7112584)

Actually, you know, the Earth Simulator has its own power plant, so, theoretically, a cluster of Earth Simulators would each possess their own power plants, so they'd leave the power grid of the host country unaffected.

Mandatory beowulf joke (1)

WernerStormcrow (675682) | about 11 years ago | (#7112378)

What a beowolf cluster of those could do...

Should I be worried that this thought actually turns me on a bit?!

Hell, yes! AHHHHH *runs out in shock and terror*

butteryl? (0, Redundant)

SHEENmaster (581283) | about 11 years ago | (#7112162)

Does this shoot the whole "butterfly in the rainforest" theory to hell, or does the simulator monitor butterfly activity?

Model (4, Insightful)

CGP314 (672613) | about 11 years ago | (#7112163)

the Japanese Earth Simulator supercomputer is producing results showing that it is possible to model climate down to the level of severe weather events

Sure, you can model it, but how accurate is the model? I can model a cow as a sphere, but I haven't told you if that is appropriate for what I need.

Re:Model (2, Funny)

kahei (466208) | about 11 years ago | (#7112205)


Next step: Breed spherical cow.

Re:Model (0)

borgdows (599861) | about 11 years ago | (#7112466)

1) Model a cow as a sphere
2) Breed spherical cow
3) ???
4) PROFIT!

Re:Model (1)

warpSpeed (67927) | about 11 years ago | (#7112516)

Next step: Breed spherical cow.

Make sure it is of "Uniform Density" too...

Re:Model (4, Insightful)

Davak (526912) | about 11 years ago | (#7112219)

In my belief, this is an excellent point. Being in a scientific field, I have a tendency...err...not to believe people doing research!

This thing is easy enough to test. Plug in a the variables today... and see if it predicts the weather currently tomorrow, or the next big hurricane, or whatever. They haven't published this type of research yet... why not?

Pretty graphics and powerful computers do not insure success.

Show me the data.

Davak

Re:Model (-1, Redundant)

Davak (526912) | about 11 years ago | (#7112232)

For the typo nazis...

"currently" should be "correctly"

Davak

Re:Model (-1, Troll)

richie2000 (159732) | about 11 years ago | (#7112255)

And "insure" should be "ensure" unless you happen to work for Lloyd's. ;-)

Re:Model (3, Informative)

Davak (526912) | about 11 years ago | (#7112278)

Really?

dictionary.com gives me...

Insure - To make sure, certain, or secure. (See Usage Note at assure)
Ensure - To make sure or certain; insure: Our precautions ensured our safety. (See Usage Note at assure.)


Usage Note: Assure, ensure, and insure all mean "to make secure or certain." Only assure is used with reference to a person in the sense of "to set the mind at rest": assured the leader of his loyalty. Although ensure and insure are generally interchangeable, only insure is now widely used in American English in the commercial sense of "to guarantee persons or property against risk."

I'm still not sure who is correct here. Please don't make me diagram the sentence. :)

Davak

Re:Model (1)

richie2000 (159732) | about 11 years ago | (#7112348)

Since Merriam-Webster seems to back you up I'll concede the point and colour myself suitably embarassed (I have been taught to stress the differences between these words and I shall now be forced to hunt down and kill my olde English teacher).

Main Entry: insure
Pronunciation: in-'shur
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): insured; i·suring
Etymology: Middle English, to assure, probably alteration of assuren
Date: 1635
transitive senses
1 : to provide or obtain insurance on or for
2 : to make certain especially by taking necessary measures and precautions
intransitive senses : to contract to give or take insurance
synonym see ENSURE

Main Entry: ensure
Pronunciation: in-'shur
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): ensured; ensuring
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French enseurer, probably alteration of Old French aseurer -- more at ASSURE
Date: circa 1704
: to make sure, certain, or safe : GUARANTEE
synonyms ENSURE, INSURE, ASSURE, SECURE mean to make a thing or person sure. ENSURE, INSURE, and ASSURE are interchangeable in many contexts where they indicate the making certain or inevitable of an outcome, but INSURE sometimes stresses the taking of necessary measures beforehand, and ASSURE distinctively implies the removal of doubt and suspense from a person's mind. SECURE implies action taken to guard against attack or loss.

Re:Model (1)

Raffaello (230287) | about 11 years ago | (#7112448)

I believe the resolution to this issue is to be found in the usage note:

"Although ensure and insure are generally interchangeable, only insure is now widely used in American English in the commercial sense of "to guarantee persons or property against risk."

In the States, insure has started to acquire the exclusive meaning of "to guarantee persons or property," while ensure has retained the more general meaning. So, in contemporary American usage, ensure is general, and insure has the specific meaning associated with Lloyds and Allstate.

Re:Model (1)

Epistax (544591) | about 11 years ago | (#7112589)

When I'm writing a document, I've often looked at Insure and decided I want Ensure. I never eve nthought about assure, but I agree with what you posted for the usage note. I use Insure as a kind of warranty. If it's been insured, then if something goes wrong, there will be compensation. Ensure on the otherhand is like assure, but perhaps aimed at the self. Examples:

My mom assures me that the cookies will not burn.
I can ensure the cookies will not burn by checking them every couple minutes.
The state of my cookies are insured: if they are burned, mom promises to buy some instead.

Ok I really strange example and I couldn't quite pull off the last one, but that's my usage.

Re:Model (3, Insightful)

snarkh (118018) | about 11 years ago | (#7112294)

Being in a scientific field, you might have taken a minute to read the article, where it says that the computer is designed for climate not weather forecast. I.e., you might get an accurate estimate for the probability of a hurricane within a given month, but don't expect to find out the weather for tomorrow.

Re:Model (2, Informative)

91stst (610832) | about 11 years ago | (#7112605)

Meteorologist HAVE been doing this type of research for many years now. Here is the data you requested, the computed skill score of all current NCEP [noaa.gov] Operational weather models.

NCEP Skill Scores [noaa.gov]

If this doesn't convince you that much research is currently being done to improve weather prediciton, here is the fields most recent effort, the WRF model, a collaborative Operational/Research model.

WRF Model [wrf-model.org]

Keep in mind, the model can only resolve a solution near that of the actual resolution of the input data, i.e. observed conditions. This is why weather prediction is still an evloving science. Not only must these supercomputers solve the non-linear multivariate/ multidimenional equations governing the atmosphere, but scientist must also devise methods to quickly, and more importantly, accurately input the most recent data so the products can be made in a reasonable time for the public.

Re:Model (1)

tius (455341) | about 11 years ago | (#7112478)

Even if the model is good and it is implemented decently, there are still those nasty initial conditions that must be accurate.

Remember kids, life is noise!

Simulator this (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7112164)

I, for one, welcome our new hurricane prediction overlards!!!

Re:Simulator this (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7112254)

Well I, for one, would welcome some grammar nazi overlords, just to deal with a certain person's posts.

Re:Simulator this (2, Funny)

queenpopsicle (645891) | about 11 years ago | (#7112364)

I can get back to you on that grammar nazi thing once I actually wake up; my alarm just went off about 10 minutes ago. But, I see what you mean :-)

Pish posh. (5, Funny)

JanusFury (452699) | about 11 years ago | (#7112169)

I'm still waiting for a supercomputer that can create hurricanes. Who cares about predicting them when you can't do anything to stop them? I envision a future where we stop hurricanes by throwing other hurricanes at them, and nations conduct large scale wars by throwing hurricanes at each other.

Re:Pish posh. (1)

AllUsernamesAreGone (688381) | about 11 years ago | (#7112288)

And more importantly, how soon after they are developed will villainsuply.com get one in stock? I'd find one very useful in The Plan...

Re:Pish posh. (1)

Krapangor (533950) | about 11 years ago | (#7112301)

The set of hurricanes is a convex cone in the Hilbert space of all weather conditions. Thus adding two hurricanes gives another, non-zero hurricane. In fact the sum of two hurricanes is always larger than just one of the summands.

Note that the cone of hurricanes if not self dual, making finding optimal hurricanes more difficult.

Re:Pish posh. (1)

rf0 (159958) | about 11 years ago | (#7112327)

I'm sure with a couple million cans of baked beans + the population on NY we could create a hurricain

Rus

Re:Pish posh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7112559)

I'm sure with a couple million cans of baked beans + the population on NY we could create a hurricain

With a couple million cans of baked beans + the population on NY + one match we could create a firestorm.

Re:Pish posh. (1)

Epistax (544591) | about 11 years ago | (#7112353)

Here at RIT we have what we call the weather machine. Why is this?
Almost every day we have a tour/orientation, the weather is great. You can plan picnics based on when these events are and you won't be disappointed. If anyone knows what the weather in Rochester, NY is like, they'll appreciate this.

Who needs a supercomputer? (1)

panurge (573432) | about 11 years ago | (#7112365)

If a single butterfly flapping its wings in the right place can start a hurricane (according to urban legend) surely all we need is to find that butterfly and model its brain. Butterfly brains are pretty small, a G5 dual processor Mac should be enough plus a few little electric motors to flap the butterfly wings.

Oh, wait, it seems we need the supercomputer to work out where to put the butterfly.

Re:Who needs a supercomputer? (2, Insightful)

nat5an (558057) | about 11 years ago | (#7112627)

Well, it's not really so much of an urban legend, as a way of explaining chaos theory (thanks Jurassic Park). The idea is that, no matter how accurate your initial data are, there will still be some round-off errors (basically) in your numbers. When you do a lot of calculations on these data, small differences in the initial data manifest themselves as large-scale phenomena down the road. Hence, a butterfly's position now determines whether or not a hurricane occurs three weeks later.

Hurricanes and Tornadoes are man-made. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7112370)

This just in off the KookWire... [google.com]
Hurricanes and Tornadoes (and also other socalled natural disasters) are man-made. All you need is a weather satellite and you'll whip up that tunnel to the strenght that you want it and you drive that thing to shore or through the country.

Who would do such a thing? Is it Al Queda? No, but it is the same that runs secrely Al Queda and any other form of terror group, it is the SEGNPMSS, the still existing German Nazi Pyschiatrists Mindcontroller Secret Service.

And if the American secret services would be not as blind and secretly also run by the SEGNPMSS, they would have blown the whistle on the Germans already or would have at least come up with weather satellites defenses, e.g. would destroy the Hurricanes or Tornadoes or at least push them back out in the ocean or in areas where they can't do much harm.

Why would the SEGNPMSS attack America? Because they always have. They like killing people, esp. Americans and Jews, but others and German people are not save either from them, and costing the USA Billions of Dollars damages. They want Germany to be world power number one, and USA, despite so much under their control, is still in their way.

I don't make this stuff up. This person is serious and has filed thousands of FOIA requests and loads of courts cases to "get at the truth" of how she's Elron Hubbard's daughter (not!) and he was replaced by a Nazi-controlled clone.

Sometimes you feel like a nut, and sometimes you don't... Sad really.

Re:Pish posh. (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | about 11 years ago | (#7112424)

Well a gale machine would certainly be handy for me - I've come to the conclusion that the wind god is a bastard. Every time I've tried to go out windsurfing over the past 3 months (at weekends, after work, even taking time off work) the wind has dropped off just as I've started driving to the beach. And then while I'm stuck in the office it's blowing a frickin' gale out there... Starting to get very frustrating.

10km resolution (4, Insightful)

CriX (628429) | about 11 years ago | (#7112172)

Wow, I'm surprised that a resolution of 10 cubic kilometers is enough to actually make any predictions besides the most general of weather trends.

Think of the variation between the state of air at sea level and then at the ceiling of a 10km cell... that's some severe approximation.

Re:10km resolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7112285)

no thats 10km in the horizontal its probably about 1km-500m vertical resolution

Re:10km resolution (4, Interesting)

BRock97 (17460) | about 11 years ago | (#7112321)

Wow, I'm surprised that a resolution of 10 cubic kilometers is enough to actually make any predictions besides the most general of weather trends.

Define "the most general of weather trends". Currently, at least for here in the US, the model of choice (something always of debate) is the Eta [noaa.gov] that typically is run at 44km (they have much higher resolutions, but those aren't as readily available). Believe it or not, this model has been great at forecasting for frontal based weather (like thunderstorms along a cold front) and winter storm systems (it is able to place the areas of heavy snow by county) Depending on how close the model run is the the event, the placement of this information is usually pretty close.

That isn't to say it is perfect. As you could imagine for a grid that size, the model will typically miss popcorn type showers and thunderstorms. Also, if you do any severe weather forecasting, you will miss the small scale features like a tornado or such.

They have something called the RUC [noaa.gov] which is run at 20km. I am not as familiar with this model, but a person I work with has used it to do tornado forecasting (check out the historic data towards the bottom) [wxcaster.com] and has had incredible results.

Re:10km resolution (4, Informative)

Katchina'404 (85738) | about 11 years ago | (#7112349)

A cubic kilometer is the volume of a cube of 1km*1km*1km = 1km^3.

Therefore 10 cubic kilometers is the volume of 10 such cubes. For example, a volume of 10km*1km*1km is 10 cubic kilometers.

If you want a cube of 10 cubic kilometers, it would have a height (and width and depth, of course) of [cubic-root of 10]km, which is about 2.15km.

Re:10km resolution (3, Informative)

imsabbel (611519) | about 11 years ago | (#7112389)

actually, the 10km are not hight. A modern simulation uses 30-70 layers, spread across the 15-25km height they simulate

Earthsim do cool things (5, Informative)

lingqi (577227) | about 11 years ago | (#7112175)

Saw a TV program on it a while back; they showed research on researchers using EarthSim to see shockwave propogation if a large earthquake was to occur in Kanto, or more specifically within a short distance to Tokyo (which is probably the biggest worry to the entire Japanese seismelogical and to a lesser extent meterological bodies).

The conclusion was basically that Japan would be f***'ed if such was to happen, but that's rant for another day.

So, earthsimulator simulates a lot of things. I am surprised that they don't model nuclear blasts on them, because it certainly CAN. Or at least we just don't know about it.

One thing is for sure, though - I will attest that NEC definitely made a bundle over this =)

btw, for ppl who are in japan, you can schedule tours to the place. I havn't tried yet, but in case anyone is interested... (now that I think about it, wasn't there a story about this a while back?) but here is a link just for fun: visitor information [jamstec.go.jp] .

and if you are brave enough for the same page in japanese, click here [jamstec.go.jp] . (The japanese page has a japanese map, which shows station names in kanji. I always found kanji station names to be more help, but that might be just me...

Re:Earthsim do cool things (5, Informative)

Raveolution (614310) | about 11 years ago | (#7112248)

Take a look to the authorized projects list for 2003 Here [jamstec.go.jp] .

Re:Earthsim do cool things (1)

fdiskne1 (219834) | about 11 years ago | (#7112336)

Thanks for the link. I'd mod you up if I had points.

Did you see this one? 13. Global elastic response simulation. Uh, so they're going to see how high the Earth bounces if dropped from a 10-story window? ;-)

Re:Earthsim do cool things (4, Funny)

blibbleblobble (526872) | about 11 years ago | (#7112282)

"I am surprised that they don't model nuclear blasts on them, because it certainly CAN."

The one in Los Alamos does that, while the Japanese one predicts weather. It's something of a common joke that the japanese are using world's fastest supercomputer to improve the environment, while the americans are using the world's second-fastest supercomputer to design bigger nuclear weapons.

Re:Earthsim do cool things (-1, Offtopic)

bhima (46039) | about 11 years ago | (#7112324)

This totally fits with my experience with Americans!

Huge Colas and Chips @ McDonalds to fatten up with

Giant SUVs so they can take the comfort of their 4 bedroom house to pick up their daughter from softball practice

A/C so they can recreate winter in summer (in some of the flimsiest houses I've ever seen)

And Three Times the Military Budget of the Entire World put to Together

Now how many 10x10x10 stacks of 100 dollar bills is that? ;)

Re:Earthsim do cool things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7112625)

Ofcouse they need giant cars and giant airplanes so they can transport their giant bodys around, and giant weelchairs becouse their giant feet and giant legs cant bear their giant body weight anymore. They also need giant sodas and giant burgers at giantic Mc.Donalds resturants so they can become even more giantic until they become so giantic the earth collapses under their weight.

Sorry for making fun of you americanos, dont take it personal. It's just that the silly American lifestyle want to make me laugh..

Re:Earthsim do cool things (1)

Libor Vanek (248963) | about 11 years ago | (#7112419)

IIRC they can't do the weapon research because they lost WWII :)

Deja Vu (1)

Porthwhanker (708730) | about 11 years ago | (#7112180)

Remember this article [slashdot.org] ? Yeah, I know, completely different technologies, but it seems like after decades of mediocre weather forecasting the technology is suddenly jumping forward all at once.

Cool! (0, Funny)

Linux Newbie Girl (712621) | about 11 years ago | (#7112181)

I'll be able to choose between skirts or pants more precisely!

Re:Cool! (1, Funny)

FrozenDownload (687199) | about 11 years ago | (#7112191)

I'll be able to choose between skirts or pants more precisely!

guys dont wear skirts, wait...why is your handle ... your not supposed to be here, I always thought the rumors about girls on slashdot were just a fable ;p~

Re:Cool! (0)

Linux Newbie Girl (712621) | about 11 years ago | (#7112204)

Gross!

Re:Cool! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7112357)

Duh!

There aren't any females on Slashdot. He's just pretending.

I saw a girl once, but then it started walking toward the window and I got scared and ran away. I was already pretty nervous just being in the outside where there is (you'll scarcely believe this) no electricity! I finally found my way home and then ordered a pepperoni pizza to calm my nerves, and when my mom brought it up to my room I told her how scary it had all been. She wanted me to go to the outside again, and I told her I would, but I decided to pretend to forget and played Everquest for three days instead.

Maybe someday I'll see a female again, but I don't want to have to go outside again.

Re:Cool! (1)

AllUsernamesAreGone (688381) | about 11 years ago | (#7112313)

Ah, but only if you live somewhere likely to be hit by hurricanes...

Output (2, Insightful)

mmmjstone (456174) | about 11 years ago | (#7112185)

I wonder if the system releases only one pattern that the weather will follow or if it returns many different ways that the weather could go. From what I've heard previously about hurricanes, they have the tendancy to change paths when they feel like it - would the machine give more than just one pattern that the hurricane could take or do you think that it gives what it has discovered is the best answer?

Re:Output (5, Informative)

girouette (309616) | about 11 years ago | (#7112242)

Each run of the model only offers one solution (called a deterministic forecast).

There is a technique called ensemble forecasting, whereby you run multiple instances of the model with slightly disturbed initial conditions and/or slightly tweaked model parameters. You can then examine the statistics of the ensemble to try and obtain information a deterministic forecast might not be able to give you.

Note that the goal in this particular case is not hurricane forecasting as such. The newsworthy information is that this is the first time that a climate model can be run at a resolution high enough that hurricanes become possible within the simulation. Short term models used for the daily weather forecast do this reasonably well already.

Ensemble forecasting is great for horse-racing (1)

MickLinux (579158) | about 11 years ago | (#7112611)

Here's how ensemble forecasting works for horse racing. You find a track that's running at least 4 races per day, two weekend days in a row (Fri and Sat, for example, though it varies.) You then print up cards that forecast every single combination of the 8 horses. 8^4 is what, about 3600. Then, stand near the horse track, and hand out your cards, one for every tenth person who enters, no more. At the bottom, it says "to get our predictions for tomorrows' races, call xxx-xxxx."

Of course, those predictions you sell for quite a pretty penny. And some poor fool happens to get the card that predicts all four races, and thinks "these guys know their stuff..."

Crooks can make a bit of money that way. Marks can lose quite a bit more than a bit that way, too.

Anyhow, I like the fact that this Japanese computer is usuing a deterministic forecast. I don't put a lot of faith in (for example, the British distributed modeling) the methods that forecast every possible outcome.

Disclaimer: I do not advocate that anyone should behave like a crook. Please do not try to steal other peoples' money, just because they have a gambling addiction. Sure, someone's going to steal it -- but their blood doesn't have to be on your soul.

Re:Output (3, Interesting)

BRock97 (17460) | about 11 years ago | (#7112260)

I wonder if the system releases only one pattern that the weather will follow or if it returns many different ways that the weather could go.

I would hope so. The National Center for Environmental Predictions (NCEP [noaa.gov] ) does this now with their model called the Global Forecast System (GFS [noaa.gov] ) that goes out to 384 hours or 16 days. With this model, they do something called ensemble forecasts where they rerun the model another ten times at a reduced resolution from the master run with perturbations added to each. Then they compare the results and will, on some of the graphics, use all ten to perform a type of averaging to remove the really bogus forecasts.

My experience has been if you are doing any type of long range forecasting, the ensemble method is the way to go. I am not saying that it is exact, but has proven an invaluable guide past day 4 for good long range forecasting. My guess is that this project in Japan would be taking this into account and performing something like this type of ensemble method. If not, I would seriously question their results.

But can it.... (2, Interesting)

stewwy (687854) | about 11 years ago | (#7112190)

Model the destruction to the USA east coast that WILL happen when a large chunk of the Canaries falls into the sea, ( estimated to be sometime in the next few centuries ) now if the EU really wanted to 'influence' US policy a few studies like these, plus a bit of mining might do it ..... conspiracy theorists take note!

Re:But can it.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7112493)

...or the West coast when a very large chunk of Hawaii collapses in to the ocean?

This happens on the order of every hundred-thousand years or so. A block of coral was found several hundred meters up the side of one of the islands...but to get there it required an even larger wave. The Big Island of Hawaii is slowly splitting apart at its southern rift zone on Kilauea, and if (when) that part of the island falls off in to the ocean, it will cause a bigger wave yet.

These sort of catastrophic collapses may be a common phase of evolution for oceanic "hotspot" islands such as the Hawaiian and Canary islands. The seafloor around the Hawaiian islands record a significant history of violent collapse, and the islands themselves are scarred from these violent events.

If you're concerned about these sorts of events, I recommend lobbying Congress to fund the geological sciences (so that we have a better hope of predicting and understanding the mechanisms leading to catastrophes), then move to Central Canada, cross your fingers, and wait.

Special note to movie makers: the "California falling in to the ocean" plotline is old hat. Make the next James Bond revolve around a supervillain trying to destabilize an oceanic volcanic island...

easy to 'predict' odd weather, (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7112193)

when witnessing the creator's/mother nature's disempowerment of unprecedented evile, aka, murdering/thieving southern baptist freemason georgewellian fuddites, aka, corepirate nazi stock markup execrable, aka, the walking dead.

lookout bullow. talk about precision strikes? it's all part of the creator's newclear power plan.

you don't need the pateNTdead eyecon0meter, to see which weigh the wind is bullowing?

consult with/trust in yOUR creator. more breathing. seek out/communicate with others of non-larcenious behaviours/intentions. vote with (what's left) in yOUR wallet. that's the spirit, moving you.

the daze of the phonIE payper liesense corepirate nazi execrable is WANing into coolapps/the abyss.

the lights are coming up now. see you there. tell 'em robbIE?

morons predict demise of unprecedented evile (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7112306)

that's right. using the pateNTdead eyecon0meter, evile's popularity is at an all time low.

the creator's peaced off. do the remedial math.

for each of the creator's innocents harmed, there is a badtoll that must/will be repaid by you/us. the self-absorbed perpetrators/walking dead will not be available to make reparations.

mynuts won, again? tell 'em robbIE?

UNIX (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7112218)

UNIX

Distributed project (4, Interesting)

LarsWestergren (9033) | about 11 years ago | (#7112224)

As mentioned before, there is a distributed project called climateprediction.net [climateprediction.net]
for those who want to participate themselves. It is run by the University of Oxford in the UK, it is not affiliated with . So far only a windows client, but a Linux one is in the works. It is very CPU intensive, so if you have less than an 800mhz processor you shouldn't bother, it would take months to finish a single unit of work.

Hey, do you find it suprising that the nation that knows the least about climate science [smirkingchimp.com] is the one that is most skeptical about global warming?

"In little more than a decade, the United States has fallen significantly behind other countries in its ability to simulate and predict long-term shifts in climate, according to a wide range of scientists and recent federal studies."
"During the Clinton administration, the lack of American modeling leadership did not have a discernible impact on climate policy, various experts said. But it did prevent the United States from playing a more central role in writing critical sections of the Intergovernmental Panel's report -- particularly the part assessing the extent of human influence on the warming trend of recent decades.

In computing power, Dr. Sarachik said, "our top two centers together don't amount to one-fifth of the European effort."


In that article from the New York Times is from two years ago! It mentions the japanese plans to build the Earth Simulator.

Does it .... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7112228)

include itself in the model?

Surely the heat generated by the system will disrupt the real world much more than the butterfly which'll make the model useless unless it includes itself in the model.

Heh circular reasoning until you disappear up your own fundament!

Predicting Hurricaines.. (2, Interesting)

tonywestonuk (261622) | about 11 years ago | (#7112230)

I think it should be noted that the article says they can only predict the likelyhood of hurricains occuring, rather than actual individual instances of hurricains as that title of this story implys..... We wont be able to fast forward the model, and predict a hurricaine years before it comes along for instance.... (Somthing to do with Chaos theory ends all hope of this ever happening..... You'd have to predict a leaf falling someplace else first!).

Re:Predicting Hurricaines.. (2, Insightful)

girouette (309616) | about 11 years ago | (#7112302)

You are right, the forecasting of individual hurricanes or storms is completely besides the point of a climate model.

The application here is in the area of climate forecasting, attempting to forecast trends in upcoming decades. It's not even important whether the model gets individual storms right, as long as the averages are realistic.

The advance is in becoming able to incorporate hurricanes in the simulation. This should help improve the realism of those trends and averages.

Re:Predicting Hurricaines.. (1)

bhima (46039) | about 11 years ago | (#7112517)

Exactly, perhaps it will also uncover something I've been wondering about

As the earth's climate and oceans heat up is the occurrence of large storms going to increase and / or their strength increase?

As sort of way to scrub off excess heat.

imagine a beowolf cluster of those.. (0, Redundant)

Pass_Thru (79608) | about 11 years ago | (#7112236)

I just had to say it...

Re:imagine a beowolf cluster of those.. (1)

bruthasj (175228) | about 11 years ago | (#7112266)

Imagine a quantum computer simulation!

Neat Trick But... (3, Interesting)

Shihar (153932) | about 11 years ago | (#7112244)

While it is nice to know the computing power is out there, people need to realize that the prediction is only as good as the software the scientist. There are a lot of things that go into the weather. I question if we have caputred data on enough of them to really start making such long term predictions. I am curious if they have actually been able to modle past weather based upon the data they would have had avalable. Predicting the weather for what happened a year ago would be a neat trick, but only if you don't cheat and use more data then what would have been avalable if one had done it for real.

Re:Neat Trick But... (1)

girouette (309616) | about 11 years ago | (#7112557)

With the intense competition and peer review in the field of weather and climate forecasting, model validation and comparison is a constant concern. I also happen to know researchers in the field who would go to great lengths to validate their results anyway, because they take pride in doing their work well and they want to get to the truth.

In the case of a model used for the daily forecast, there are archives and canned cases that can be used for comparison.

In the case of a climate model, you are interested in getting the long term trends right. Storms that last from a couple of days to a week are a high-frequency signal in terms of climate; you are not trying to reproduce every shortwave peak. So the materials you use for validation come either from historical records, if they are available, or from geological records and ice from ancient icecaps. If you can reproduce known historical trends, then you may have a model with some predictive value. Your comment about cheating has value for short term forecast model development, but misses the point of a climate model.

Yes, it is a difficult set of problems, with scales going from the molecular to the planetary. But all of it is based on sound physical science done by smart folks. There aren't many mysterious areas left; the challenge lies in the implementation and validation.

The point of using larger computers is so that fewer aspects have to be neglected, and to have more sophisticated representations for the phenomena we do handle.

Act of God? (1, Flamebait)

Phigrin (645909) | about 11 years ago | (#7112253)

Well now that we might be predicting when and where hurricanes will occur, do you think it may convince religious zealots that hurricanes are just part of life? Or do we have to make peace that some people still think an eclipse is the work of the supernatural and that some of us always like to read our horoscopes?

Re:Act of God? (2, Insightful)

bhima (46039) | about 11 years ago | (#7112280)

Given that they accept these things on faith. I expect that another solution for their need to rationalize the beliefs will show itself.

Don't frustrate yourself! Don't worry about these folks!

Probably off topic but my daughter recently learned about how hurricanes form, and what powers them in school and was quite fascinated. My point is that the truth about our natural surroundings can be as interesting to those recently exposed to it (But I suppose it requires an open mind) as the fantasies concocted by the zealots!

Re:Act of God? (1)

News for nerds (448130) | about 11 years ago | (#7112374)

God creates hurricane himself, not predicts it because he doesn't need to predict what he does by himself, even zealots will agree on it.

Re:Act of God? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7112504)

In Soviet Russia, hurricane creates God!

Re:Act of God? (2, Insightful)

Rostin (691447) | about 11 years ago | (#7112587)

This comment is akinned to those that people make who are convinced that Science (tm) has somehow disproven the existence of God, simply because we now have a better understanding of the physical mechanisms for certain phenomena that used to be explained by divine activity (a popular example is Zeus casting down lightning bolts). Whether or not individual lightning "bolts" (or hurricanes) have some divine purpose is not a question that we can answer by understanding atmospheric science. In a rough parallel, it might be asked, "Why did Phigrin type what he typed?" And in response someone will say, "Because the electrical/chemical impulses transmitted via his nervous system caused the muscles in his fingers to move in such and such a fashion." It's a valid answer, but says nothing about Phigrin's intents or motives.

Supercomputer (2, Funny)

Molina the Bofh (99621) | about 11 years ago | (#7112259)

Eventually this supercomputer will be able to model climate down to the level of 42.

Re:Supercomputer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7112497)

Eventually this supercomputer will be able to model climate down to the level of 42.

Correction: This supercomputer will be able to give us the question whose answer is 42.

No pussy-footing for NEC (3, Funny)

rgoer (521471) | about 11 years ago | (#7112262)

I had no idea how much more powerful NEC's EarthSim was than the the "next best thing" was, as far as supercomputers go, but check Top500.org's current list [top500.org] (to be updated in November) out: NEC ES runs, at max, almost three times (!) the G-flops as the next runner-up. I always figured the supercomputer races would be like Cedar Pointe and their roller coasters... you know, somebody builds a bigger or faster one, so you build another that edges them out by just enough to reclaim the title. I had no idea NEC decided to take the "largest computational genitals, period" crown with such authority.

Re:No pussy-footing for NEC (2, Informative)

DrMindWarp (663427) | about 11 years ago | (#7112341)

The NEC EarthSimulator has been top of the Top500 list since the June 2002 edition. The main reason for its maintained top ranking is that it is a highly specialised, purpose-built machine. As far as I am aware, all the other listed machines come off a production line or are built from off-the-shelf, commodity parts. That's not to suggest one couldn't buy an EathSim off NEC if you made a suitable offer :-) If my memory serves me, a similar, highly specialised machine, the Japanese 'Numerical Wind Tunnel', was top of the list for quite a while too. It was also a vector processor based machine.

Re:No pussy-footing for NEC (1)

imsabbel (611519) | about 11 years ago | (#7112411)

but the differences are bluring. The earth simulater uses vector processors, but NEC produces even workstations with that cpu. Thats not too different from the other clusters. Even if itanium,opteron and alpha may me "of the shelf" cpus, a rack with >myrinet connectivity or even switched HT links isnt very different from a "highly specialied, pupose.build machine"

Re:No pussy-footing for NEC (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | about 11 years ago | (#7112538)

just out of interest, can we get the benchmark program for these top500 scores?
I would want to relate their very impressive score with my miniscule AMD Athlon 2600 :)

I just did a bit of digging myself, and it appears as though the benchmark is called Linpack [netlib.org] , and they have a Java version of it available. Definately doesn't appear point and click, could anyone help me out with some figures on consumer class hardware - or is it simply not available?

When will the find that culprit butterfly .... (3, Funny)

leoaugust (665240) | about 11 years ago | (#7112279)

"They show that, for the first time, our climate models can be run at resolutions capable of ...

I have always heard that the flapping of a butterfly here can cause a storm in China ....

Just wondering whether someday the resolution will be so good that out of the millions of butterflies flapping, they will be able to track down that culprit whose flapping caused the storm in china ...

because if they can do it, you won't find me posting to slashdot, but on the run trying to kill that damn butterfly before I am blamed for it all ... The TIA and CAPPS goons shoot horses, don't they ... or is it people that they shoot ...

Somebody didn't stay awake in Geography class (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7112298)

I think you mean they can predict 'typhoons'. Japanese don't care about hurricanes. If anything they want the US to have more of them so that Japan looks good.

Cat 5! T-12 days and counting! (1)

fideaux64 (571408) | about 11 years ago | (#7112309)


Which means the US TV broadcast media, craving the eyeballs of weather-obsessed seniors, will have more time to hype storms. Blah.

Not really predicting per se... (2, Informative)

OneOver137 (674481) | about 11 years ago | (#7112329)

but rather
"This means that we potentially have the capability to predict whether storms like Hurricane Isabel will be on the increase in future."
Just a trending or probability, not "a Cat 5 hurricane will form at this lat/lon and go here". Good start though, and we'll get there someday.

Nonsense in article (2, Insightful)

Brian Blessed (258910) | about 11 years ago | (#7112380)

The article contains a photo of a train with the caption: Fewer tracks may buckle in heatwaves

The recent track buckling problem in the UK was caused by the use of cheap lightweight tracks (which is why our European neighbours were unaffected). I have to wonder though how the author of this article reaches the conclusion that simulating climate models will actually lead to less track buckling. It was already known that the tracks would buckle occaisionally, but those in charge of the railways planned for drivers to slow down and try to see buckled lines ahead (as if derailing at 60mph is acceptable!).

Re:Nonsense in article (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7112540)

This isn't quite true.

The tracks in the UK aren't cheap and lightweight - the defining characteristic that causes them to buckle is that the rail sections are longer than those on the continent, and have less in the way of inter-section spacing for the rails to expand into when they heat up.

These measures were, as I understand it, introduced to reduce maintenance time on tracks and carriages, improve ride quality and increase efficiency generally.

The decision to base the tolerances round a (relatively) low maximum temperature is the mistake, if there is one. That said, rail buckling problems due to ambient temperature are quite predictable, and in the grand scheme of things, all it meant was some delays in hot weather, comparable to those we already had on the roads.

Not the end of the world, I think, and it's not entirely fair to imply rail buckling is a negligent planning issue (cheap and lightweight).

Now, on all the other negligence, you will get significantly less argument from me...

Just waiting for the... (0)

betong (526611) | about 11 years ago | (#7112408)

"But Earth IS a sim" jokes ;).

Re:Just waiting for the... (1)

bhima (46039) | about 11 years ago | (#7112553)

Philips Jose Farmer had a wonderful series of books on these lines "The World of Tiers" Great series, got it off my bartender in the US.

See, some Americans are OK!

Re:Just waiting for the... (1)

Cyno01 (573917) | about 11 years ago | (#7112599)

Goddamn dasies, pause the game put a nuke on every tile, then unpause, you just get black dasies everywere...

So, its all to play a complicated game of.. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#7112520)

SimEarth.

Lucky Bastards.

Intensity (1)

The Ape With No Name (213531) | about 11 years ago | (#7112562)

BUT... Can it model potential intensity? NOAA and NWS have been able (as proven by Isabel) to give 5 day advance warning of where the storms are actually going to hit. No, it is not dumb luck. The trick is to figure out how strong the storm is going to be upon landfall, which allows goverments, NGOs and the general population to make proper decisions with regard to evacuation and appropriate response. They can't do this yet.

Better models please (3, Insightful)

Pedrito (94783) | about 11 years ago | (#7112614)

I live in Southern Mexico on the coast. About 5 years ago Hurrican Mitch, a category 5 hurricane, was sitting out at sea not too far away. For nearly a week it hardly moved, just hanging out in the middle of the ocean building up strength. The whole time, the NOAA/NHC was predicting it would hit us dead on in 3 days. Yet the hurricane just stayed there.

Suddenly, the hurricane turned south and hit Honduras. Where it again stalled and hung out for 3 days. In the end, about 11,000 Hondurans died, primarily from massive mudslides that consumed enitre villages.

I really hope they improve the models significantly so that things like this don't have to happen. If hurricanes could be predicted with more accuracy, to the point that people and countries could trust the predictions, these areas could be evacuated.

Unfortunately, with the level of accuracy, there's such a wide area in the predicted path that it's impossible to evacuate everyone that could potentially be in the path in time to save them.

When I first moved down here, I though, "Gee, I'd like to see what a hurricane is like." Then Mitch showed up. When you have a category 5 hurricane on your doorstep, you start to re-evaluate your life a bit. The town I live in would have been leveled. I would have been one of the lucky ones. I had a car and would have simply driven inland to avoid it. A lot of people couldn't have afforded to do that.

With more accurate predictions, the government could sponsor the evacuations and save a lot of lives.

Algorithm (0)

NoSuchGuy (308510) | about 11 years ago | (#7112633)

public Weather checkWeather(String args[]) {
if (wind > 100mph) {
Hurricane hurricane = new Hurricane(Jane);
actualWeather = new Weather(hurricane);
} else {
actualWeather = new Weather(sunshine);
} ...
return actualWeather;
}

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