Predicting climate change on your PC

16 03 2007

warming

Via celsias.com, the results of the BBC’s worldwide “Climate Change Prediction” experiment are in. This worldwide experiment was based on distributed computer, in which a software prediction model was sent out to thousands of home PC users. Their PCs ran the program when in screensaver mode, and then sent the results back to the Oxford University servers. The experimental model was based on the hugely successful SETI project, which crunched radio data to try to find a signal from extraterrestrials.

I didn’t know about the BBC experiment, but would certainly have wanted to commit my own computing power to add to the mix, measly though it is . The image above is a screen grab of the world results page. The original image is Java-enabled and has some good news (well, at least not such bad news) for New Zealand:

The experiment predicts a 4°C rise in temperature for the UK by 2080. But how does the rest of the world fare? New Zealand escapes with a lower temperature increase while Alaska should expect a larger rise than the UK. Find out below why different regions of the globe will heat at different rates.

The reason we can expect less warming than the UK is because we’re an island. Water warms less quickly than land, so will help to buffer us from the worst of global warming. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the large continents that form the bulk of places humans live. In Africa and the Americas, temperatures are going to go up on average.

Also, though we may not warm as severely as countries that are on large continents (according to the experimental results, the UK can expect 40C temperatures regularly by the summer of 2080), there are other effects of global warming that aren’t covered by the BBC experiment. Rising sea levels, for one thing, will affect us disproportionately since so much of New Zealand is coastal — we have as much coastline as the US. So it’s not like we’re wiping our brow and saying “whew!”

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