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The Earth simulator: an introduction.

In 1996, a report entitled, "For Realization of the Global Change Prediction," (2) published by an advisory committee of the Science and Technology Agency of Japan, led to the creation of a highly advanced supercomputer, the Earth Simulator (ES). This supercomputer was recognized as one of the three essential elements--Simulation, along with Observation and Modeling--that had been identified by the above report and has been promoted for attaining better global climate change prediction. See Figure 1 below for a representation.


The ES was designed as a parallel vector computer suitable for numerical computation such as climate simulation. The ES uses a super high-resolution model with the time slice method (applied for 10~20 years to present or future climate) and a regional climate model. From its creation, the aim of the ES has been to mainly serve the earth sciences. It was produced by the NEC Corporation and launched for operation in March 2002, when the IPCC was just starting its activities for the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4).

The ES has a main memory of 10 terabytes and consists of 640 processor nodes, an interconnection network for connecting nodes, system disks, user disks, and other related devices including outer networks. Each processor node has a peak performance of 64 gigaflops and consists of 8 vector processors (each of which has a peak performance of 8 gigaflops). The theoretical peak performance of the ES is 40 teraflops and it has shown a sustained performance of 35.86 teraflops according to the Linpack Benchmark Test. It held the No. 1 position in the world ranking among TOP500 supercomputers from its launch to late 2004 (see Figure 2 below). During this period almost all parts of climate model experiments were conducted to contribute to the IPCC/AR4. Even now, because of its unique mission for the earth sciences, it is still playing a very important role for climate change research.

The ES already has run complex environmental modeling experiments that have returned some startling results. Advanced modeling of the planet by the ES determined that over the next 100 years, a 65% to 80% decrease in Arctic Sea ice melted by global warming will create a 10 cm rise in sea level, causing mass coastal flooding (IT News Australia 2005).


Hiroki Kondo

Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC/FRCGC), Japan

(2) This report was later integrated into the present Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) in Japan.
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Title Annotation:Visualizing Future Climate in Latin America: Results from the application of the Earth Simulator
Author:Kondo, Hiroki
Publication:Visualizing Future Climate In Latin America: Results From the Application of the Earth Simulator
Date:Nov 1, 2007
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