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Date: November 02, 2004

UVic Climate Research Gets a Super-Boost

Researchers at the University of Victoria have a new $12.3 million tool in their quest to understand Earth’s past, present and future climate.

UVic climatologist Dr. Andrew Weaver recently took delivery of a NEC SX-6 supercomputer—one of the world’s fastest—as the centrepiece of a new regional facility for advanced research on climate change.

The supercomputer was acquired through a $7.46 million in-kind donation from computer manufacturers NEC Corporation and Cray Inc., $2.42 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, and $2.42 million from the B.C. Knowledge Development Fund.

“This exceptionally powerful machine will allow us to examine climate questions that haven’t been addressed by anyone, anywhere,” says Weaver, who is the Canada Research Chair in atmospheric science. Weaver and his team will model the climate system over the last 135,000 years to understand its influence on human evolution—and human influence on climate.

“The high, sustained performance and easy-to-use NEC supercomputer SX series were instrumental in Dr. Weaver’s choice of this system,” says Tadao Kondo, NEC senior vice president. “NEC is excited to provide support to UVic and the climate community in Western Canada for this study.”

“This new supercomputer represents a strategic boost to UVic’s research capabilities and it will further enhance Canada’s capacity to effectively compete in the global technology arena,” says Dr. Eliot Phillipson, president and CEO of the Canada Foundation for Innovation.”

“The provincial government continues to support this kind of research, as it puts B.C. and Canada at the forefront of climate change research, and will be a major asset to Canada in international climate treaty negotiations,” says Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Ida Chong. “Students and faculty will benefit from UVic becoming an internationally recognized centre of excellence for comprehensive studies in climate science, technology and policy.”

Weaver and his colleagues are world leaders in climate modelling. Over the last 10 years, they have developed an earth systems climate model—made up of sophisticated ocean, sea ice and land ice components—that is now used by researchers around the world.

The new supercomputer will help researchers move beyond modelling the physical aspects of climate change toward models that represent the interactions of economic, social, technological and biogeochemical factors, says Weaver.

“There is new and stronger evidence that most climate warming observed over the last 50 years is due to human activities,” he says. “This supercomputer will allow us to refine models to answer with greater certainty the specific questions posed by industry and government so that they can develop realistic policy options for the future.”

Media contacts:
Dr. Andrew Weaver (Earth & Ocean Sciences) at (250) 472-4001/4006 or weaver@uvic.ca
Mark Corcoran, Sales Director, NEC Solutions (America), Inc. at (513) 793-4610 (Ohio) or mcorcoran@atcc.necsys.com
Valerie Shore (UVic Communications) at (250) 721-7641 or vshore@uvic.ca

UVic Climate Research Gets a Super-Boost

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