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ClimatePrediction.net

I'm back from SC06 and almost recovered from jetlag. We're in the middle of a workshop on Virtual Organisations, which I'll report on in due course. Right now I want to highlight another of the projects we demonstrated on the UK e-Science stand at SC06.

ClimatePrediction.net uses home enthusiasts to run climate models on their PCs, inspired by SETI@Home and similar projects. This has the advantage that it can run multiple versions of models with slightly varying parameters and look at the most likely results.

It's good and worthwhile science but what makes the project particularly worth noting is the work they've done with education and the media. They have created a schools pack so that the system can be used in school teaching (that's pre-college school in USA terms). As a result they have several schools running models on their IT labs.

The project has also been fortunate to attract the interest of the BBC, who included it in a documentary on climate change and invited viewers to join in by running their own models. We played this documentary on our stand. The BBC are producing another programme to present the results, to be broadcast early next year.

At SC06, Carl Christensen of ClimatePrediction.net and David Anderson of BOINC and SETI@home gave a good discussion of what's required to run a successful project of this kind. The social questions of how to get a good user base have to be addressed as well as the technological problems. Several techniques exist but getting the BBC on your side must count as a particular useful one.

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