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El Nino's evil relative the "Blob"

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

The “Blob” is back and doesn’t seem to want to leave anytime soon. The Blob, a large body of relatively warm water off the Pacific coast, has been blamed for contributing to the warm winters and dryer springs and the very dry summers that the west coast is/has experienced these past several seasons from Alaska down to Mexico.

 

Oregon State University  (OSU) wants to learn more about the Blob- what caused it, whether climate change may be involved, how far inland does the Blob’s influence extend, how long it can be expected to stick around and other related information.

 

To collect the climate and ocean temp data, and run the requisite computer models requires a tremendous amount of computer power, far beyond what the OSU has available to it according to university officials. 

 

Researchers hope to enlist the aid of the public through use the combined power of thousands of personal computers. This is what it will take to input the  collected data and run the necessary computer models.

 

If you are interested in participating by lending some of your free hard drive space go to www.climateprediction.net/weatherathome 

Then click on   2015 “Western US Drought” in the left hand column.

 

For a brief discussion of the nasty “Blob” see:

http://www.komonews.com/weather/blogs/scott/UWs-Cliff-Mass-Blob-of-warm-Pacific-Ocean-waters-had-returned-307004321.html

 

Please let this not become another “climate change debate” thread or it will quickly find itself relegated to the little read “Politics and Hot Topics” forum. I  just learned of the Oregon State University project and thought it would be of interest to skiers who may want to participate in the research project and contribute to a better understanding of the "Blob’s" effects on west coast weather.


Edited by Lostboy - 7/6/15 at 6:56pm
post #2 of 9

post #3 of 9
Blob Blob Blob.
post #4 of 9

Bob bob bob.

 

No seriously, this kind of thing is worthwhile and anyway, half of us out there are contributing our computers each night to spamming, at least this way we'd know what our CPU's are doing when we're asleep. 

post #5 of 9

Wait a minute....

 

Isn't OSU just down the road from that big company most of us love/loath about computer operations systems?

 

Why borrow infected computers to study weather. 

post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ali pine View Post
 

Wait a minute....

 

Isn't OSU just down the road from that big company most of us love/loath about computer operations systems?

 

Why borrow infected computers to study weather. 

 

You may want to read http://boinc.berkeley.edu/wiki/BOINC_Security

It explains the security involved in the OSU project.

 

While nothing seems absolutely foolproof in the computing world these days,  BOINC  which is used to download the program onto your free hardware space maintains that it has an 8 year track record without incident.

 

Not being a computer expert myself, skiers who may otherwise be interested in participating in the OSU research project to study the "Blob" can read about the security involved in download process in the link above and decide for themselves whether to do so.

post #7 of 9

 If understand it correctly the winter storms usually mix the warm surface water with the cold lower depths every year, but the Blob has reached a tipping point where it affects the weather to the point of preventing the storms necessary for destroying itself.  Maybe we are living a 1950s science fiction scenario where the Blob was caused by the March 2011 Japanese nuclear disaster heating up the water, which then drifted to our west coast.  We need to get Godzilla to swim around out there and stir up the water so we can get back on track with our western weather.

post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by ali pine View Post
 

Wait a minute....

 

Isn't OSU just down the road from that big company most of us love/loath about computer operations systems?

 

Why borrow infected computers to study weather. 

The big computer companies often donate servers/storage or financial assistance or technical know-how on the backend setup for them to maximize their skills and expertise.  But the whole point of distributed computing is to DISTRIBUTE the computing to volunteers for "free" volunteer processing.

Otherwise if you wanted a big company to also donate computational processing, there is a plain market cost associated for that CPU time, and it no longer becomes about a win-win mutually beneficial situation.

 

A company could pre-install the software on their company computers.  However this usually only occurs if they're making a big push for that effort and project and wanting to show it off

For example, that's why IBM has high contributions to WCG http://www.worldcommunitygrid.org/stat/viewStatsByTeamAT.do?sort=cpu

 

Who's to say the Big company that you are referring too already doesn't have their own pet project they are supporting.

 

There are also mechanisms in place in distributed computing to be able to detect bad responses and discard them.

 

In general though, you can say that about any cause: why doesn't Warren Buffett or Bill Gates just solve problem X. They have so much money.  But that's a bit of a nihilistic view that washes your hands of the problem and passes the buck.  

 

The whole point of these efforts is that a lot of small contributors can make a difference.  In these computational efforts, pure statistics are revealed and it does show that the thousands of small computers volunteers can compete with a big expensive computer in processing power to complete a task; and greatly reduce the computer costs for researchers who would have to pay for servers instead.

post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 

raytseng,

 

Thanks for providing a very good explanation of what "distributed computing" is all about.

 

 

I found a list of projects that have been undertaken employing distributed computing.

I was surprised to learn that there are  actually quite a few, ranging from climate, to Alzheimer's, cancer and other medical research, to space science and other categories. And "citizen scientists" can participate in multiple projects simultaneously if they choose. To participate just requires some available space on your disk drive which most of us likely have. A list of past, current and planned projects can be found at http://distributedcomputing.info/start.html

 

We can all become "Citizen Climatologists" by volunteering to help find answers to the nature, extent of impact and expected duration of the "Blob".  Simply volunteer for the OSU distributed computer research at  www.climateprediction.net/weatherathome 

Then click on   2015 “Western US Drought” in the left hand column.

 

The free space on our computers will be doing the work while we can have the satisfaction of contributing to scientific knowledge of this phenomena  without having to be scientists or computer whizzes. Beats just trying to guess what the next ski season may bring.

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