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Linking computers together to produce integrated assessments of climate change
Understanding the interaction between policy decisions, the economy and environment requires an integrated assessment that incorporates information from different disciplines. Typically, this has involved linkage of simulations from scientists at a single institution to produce an integrated model. However, such linkages do not take advantage of recent developments in information technology that allow widely separated organisations to collaborate over the internet. Dr Rachel Warren, from the Tyndall Centre at the University of East Anglia's School of Environmental Sciences, and colleagues are bringing Integrated Assessment Modelling together with computer networking technology to create a virtual organisation able to collaborate on climate change responses. The researchers will initially develop a prototype Integrated Assessment Model on a single computer, comprising several interacting modules that describe the climate, economy and vegetation at global and regional scales. They will then demonstrate the model's ability to be distributed electronically by establishing an electronic network that allows researchers to run the model from their desks at organisations around the UK, drawing from modules residing on different computers around the country. They will also develop a simple user interface to allow scientists, government decision-makers and other stakeholders to use the Integrated Assessment Model by simply clicking on their computer screen to select a policy option to investigate, producing results that are clearly displayed in a user-friendly format. The distributed, prototype model will lay the foundation for a Community Integrated Assessment Model, which will use novel software to ensure the secure and coordinated communication of modules and sharing of computing resources across a large network of institutions. Initial work has commenced to link the Tyndall Centre, the Potsdam Institute for Climate and Policy, and the International Centre for Integrative Studies. The system will also incorporate sophisticated interfaces to allow easy access to the results. The expanded model will inform industry, policy-makers, NGOs and the general public on how various policies and pathways will affect climate, the subsequent climate impacts, and the choices open to society. A new Tyndall project is using novel computer networking technology to bring organisations together electronically to collaborate on integrated assessments of climate change. More information Contact the lead investigator of Project T2.15 (SOFTIAM: Integrated Assessment Modelling using distributed software components): Dr Rachel Warren Tyndall Centre, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ UK Phone: +44 (0) 1603 59 3912; Fax: +44 (0) 1603 59 3901 Email: r.warren@uea.ac.uk Other researchers involved in this project are: Mr Graham Riley, Dr Len Freeman, Dr Michael Bane and Dr Rupert Ford, Computer Science, University of Manchester Dr Jonathan Köhler, Department of Applied Economics, University of Cambridge Dr Larissa Naylor and Dr Tim Mitchell, Tyndall Centre, University of East Anglia Project duration: August 2002 to July 2004 Useful web sites: The Tyndall Centre: www.tyndall.ac.uk Theme 1 Flagship Project: www.tyndall.ac.uk/research/theme1/theme1_flagship.shtml A blueprint for integrated assessment of climate change: www.tyndall.ac.uk/research/theme1/final_reports/it1_3.pdf Manchester University Centre for Novel Computing: www.cs.man.ac.uk/cnc The Globus Project and computational grids: www.globus.org

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