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Wales unveils "Blue Ice" climate change supercomputer

Swansea University system to model climate change scenarios. The system will model ice flows. One of the most powerful research supercomputers in the country was unveiled today at Swansea University, at a centre that will use it to model climate change scenarios.

Known as "Blue Ice" the supercomputer, which is supplied by IBM, is capable of running 10,000 "model years" a week as scientists look to evaluate the effect of various complex inputs, including glaciers and ice flows, at once.

The system will provide researchers with a wider perspective, said Tavi Murray, scientific director of The Mike Barnsley Centre for Climate Research, where the computer is housed.

"Previously we had only worked on individual components of a climate change model," she said. "The computer will enable us to put them together and see how they affect one another."

Swansea has a particular expertise in climate change components - such as the effect of ice sheets, vegetation, or cities on climate change.

"It's coupling them and examining feedbacks that we will be able to do now," said Murray.

The computer also has a visualisation function that will allow scientists to see data converted into physical forms.

The main system has 640 cores and a peak performance of 6.8 Teraflops, and will be one of the most energy efficient of its size.

The results of the centre's research will be published in peer reviewed journals.

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