This week's project profile is for ClimatePrediction.net, a massive project to model and forecast weather in the 21st Century.
The software, like the other projects profiled so far, operates on the BOINC platform for distributed computing. The ClimatePrediction.net system uses the unused background cycles of its members' computers to simulate a large number of possible climate scenarios to determine how each individual variable affects the overall climate picture.
These simulations are then studied individually and merged together into one and tweaked as additional data becomes available. The more data runs that are performed, the more accurate the models will become.
Accurate prediction of climate change could be vital on both the short- and long-term scales. For example, more precise climate modeling could have shown that Hurricane Katrina would strike New Orleans, rather than the predicted path that showed it striking Texas. Advanced warning could have led to better evacuation and preparation and given people an expectation of the damage before it happened.
Similarly, in the long-term time scale, climate change predictions can give us better understanding of potential warming effects such as rising ocean levels, increased storm activity, etc.
If you're interested in participating in this type of science project, you can download the software here.