Sustainability Blog

Warm Wind Computing Climate: New Supercomputer Helps Study Climate Change

By Apurva Gosalia - Oct 13, 2022

Scientists from the German Climate Computing Center in Hamburg unveiled this in September a gleaming new climate research supercomputer. Named “Levante,” it’s the sole supercomputer in Germany used solely to study climate change.

Levante comprises 2,832 nodes, each with two processors, which together deliver peak computing power of 14 petaFLOP per second. A FLOP is a floating point operation, and Levante does 14 quadrillion of them per second. A quadrillion is a one and 15 zeros.

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The computer also has a 132-petabyte storage system for storing and analyzing the simulation data. This equates to storage capacity 130,000 times greater than a 1 terabyte laptop.

The device is five times more powerful than its predecessor, which should make it possible to forecast climate change more accurately for the current century.

“If we want to slow down and stop climate change, we need to understand the climate as a whole even better,” Federal Research Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger said at the inauguration. With the help of the €45 million project, more comprehensive, higher-resolution and better climate projections are possible.

Levante will provide information on the effects of climate change that current simulations cannot yet offer. 

“In order to respond to the challenges of climate change and develop solutions, we need to understand the climate system in all its complexity,” said Hamburg Science Senator Katharina Fegebank. For this, she said, the supercomputer is “a real gamechanger.”

Modelling is an essential part of climate research. It allows climate scientists the ability to simulate the Earth’s climate system based on scientific laws and assumptions that researchers make.

“The long-term goal is to create a digital twin of the Earth to better understand and more accurately predict how weather and climate occur – on a global scale, but even more specifically on a local scale,” said Martin Stratmann, president of the Max Planck Society, in a press release.

The name Levante is Spanish for “warm wind”. It is one of the winds in the Mediterranean and originates between Spain and the North African coast. A levante happens every month and has an influence on the climate in many areas in and around the Mediterranean.

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