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Article | Mathematics and Computer Science Division

New project is the ACME of addressing climate change

Argonne National Laboratory is participating in the Accelerated Climate Modeling for Energy (ACME) project to accelerate the development and application of fully coupled, state-of-the-science Earth system models for scientific and energy applications.

The project — which includes seven other national laboratories, four academic institutions, and one private-sector company — will focus initially on three climate change science drivers and corresponding questions to be answered during the project’s initial phase:

  • Water Cycle: How do the hydrological cycle and water resources interact with the climate system on local to global scales? How will more realistic portrayals of features important to the water cycle (resolution, clouds, aerosols, snowpack, river routing, land use) affect river flow and associated freshwater supplies at the watershed scale?
  • Biogeochemistry: How do biogeochemical cycles interact with global climate change? How do carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles regulate climate system feedbacks, and how sensitive are these feedbacks to model structural uncertainty?
  • Cryosphere Systems: How do rapid changes in cryospheric systems, or areas of the earth where water exists as ice or snow, interact with the climate system? Could a dynamical instability in the Antarctic ice sheet be triggered within the next 40 years?

Robert Jacob, a computational climate scientist in Argonne’s Mathematics and Computer Science Division, is a member of the ACME council and leads the software engineering and coupler task team.

Over a planned 10-year span, the project aim is to conduct simulations and modeling on the most sophisticated high-performance computing systems machines as they become available — 100+ petaflop machines and eventually exascale supercomputers. The team initially will use U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science leadership computing facilities at Oak Ridge and Argonne national laboratories.

Initial funding for the effort has been provided by the DOE’s Office of Science.