Using a supercomputer to keep catastrophic flooding from being a catastrophe
To start, ClimEx researchers compiled thousands of historical meteorological data for Quebec and Bavaria, as well as projections for the possible impacts of climate change on each location. This data was input into advanced modeling systems run on one of the SuperMUC systems. The latest installation, called SuperMUC-NG, is built on a cluster of liquid-cooled Lenovo ThinkSystem SD650 servers, powered by Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors.
The simulations run on LRZ’s supercomputers are much more advanced than the rudimentary graphics projected behind meteorologists on television. The ClimEx models allow scientists to predict the timing and path of weather events with greater speed and accuracy, largely due to the simulation’s high spatial resolution and its ability to analyze thousands of data points at one time.
After running around 50 simulations for Bavaria and Quebec, researchers gained a total of 7,500 years of climate data per location. The findings were stark.
Between 2080 and 2099, the models showed temperature increases of up to 8°C during the summer in some parts of Europe, and temperature decreases exceeding 12°C in parts of Québec during winter. The models also predict that Quebec and central Europe will become much drier in the summer, and wetter in the winter.
ClimEx researchers presented their data to representatives of the Bavarian Environment Agency and Waterborne Expertise Center of Quebec during two symposiums, held in 2017 and 2019. Equipped with these findings, the local governments can not only better evaluate the flood risks for their regions, but begin developing methods for mitigating impact, such as building dams and preventing construction in flood-vulnerable areas.
Importantly, the algorithms and technology developed to run these climate simulations will have applications far beyond the locations studied by ClimEx. Other locales can adapt the modeling system to generate climate predictions for their own regions, and assess the likelihood of a variety of extreme weather events, such as heatwaves and wildfires.
There’s an intriguing irony to all of this. While climate models like the ones developed within the ClimEx project are essential tools in preparing for the devastation of climate change, supercomputing centers require immense amounts of energy -- and capital -- to run. Some supercomputing centers use roughly as much energy annually as it takes to power 13,500 households.
LRZ is taking revolutionary steps to diminish its energy emissions. In 2012, the center partnered with Intel and IBM’s x86 division (later to become Lenovo Data Center Group) to install the first water-cooled x86 cluster at its Munich headquarters. LRZ has installed several iterations of that water-cooled system since then, including the first Lenovo Neptune® branded systems in 2018. Lenovo Neptune® technologies have reduced LRZ’s electrical consumption by up to 30 percent while saving the center an approximate 1.4 million euros annually, or enough electricity to power 3,650 German homes for a year.
Lenovo knows well that to be smarter, you have to be greener. The company has taken steps to address its carbon footprint across all aspects of the business, from production and manufacturing to shipping and logistics.
In the 2017-2018 fiscal year alone, Lenovo reduced its total energy consumption by more than 2.5 percent by implementing energy-efficiency projects across operations and installing renewable energy solutions wherever possible. Where direct energy reductions are not technically or economically feasible, the company purchases renewable energy attribute certificates and carbon offsets to balance its energy usage.
Energy efficiency plays a key role in Lenovo’s development of new products. In light of its manifold efforts, Lenovo was recently recognized as one of the top-100 most sustainable corporations in the world. As climate change continues to warm the planet, forcing humankind to adapt, future innovations will have to consider just that: the future.
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