Published: Wednesday 15 March 2006

Heat it up!
You contribute to climate change. You have been told that a million times before. But this time, you are being given a chance to contribute in a different way.

The BBC, Britain's Meteorological Office, Oxford University, and the University of California at Berkeley, USA, have launched a software which will mobilise the idle time of computers to better predict climate change.

Designed on the lines of the programme for the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence (SETI@home), this one also uses a technique known as distributed computing, which harnesses the power of thousands of computers around the world. In fact, he software was produced by BOINC (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing) Project, the same group which created the SETI@home software.

In the BBC's Climate Change Experiment, each computer will run a slightly different climate model using data from 1900 to 2000. The process will take the average machine between three and four months to process the information. The analysis will proceed to a future climate change simulation only if the results are reasonably like what exists today.

The software runs in the background and is given lower priority when other applications are running and faster when the computer is otherwise idle. The results of the climate prediction project will be aired on the BBC in May, this year.

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