Global Grids Tackle Global Science
|AquaMaps view of scombridae family distribution, Australia Courtesy of AquaMaps and D4Science|
From monitoring fishing stocks, to forecasting weather conditions, to mitigating the after-effects of earthquakes, the Earth and environmental sciences are a hot spot of research within the grid computing community. During the Enabling Grids for E-sciencE (EGEE) conference in Barcelona, this community shared the latest advances in their work. Following are a few highlights from the discussions.
Investigations into minimizing the disastrous after-effects of major earthquakes are being led by Academia Sinica, ASGC, in Taiwan. While predicting the occurrence of an earthquake is still an imprecise science, modeling how to minimize its effects is well understood. Using the EGEE infrastructure, the system models the effect an earthquake could have on a local area and tries to either reduce the risk of damage or ensure an appropriate disaster plan is in place. The system combines historical data with information on earthquake movement, as well as the expertise available within the area itself to provide a full picture of the possible effects of a major quake.
Within the environmental sciences community, weather simulation is another primary area of research. One of the most popular tools is the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) modeling system, developed in the US. The Santander Meteorology Group from northern Spain has “ported,” or modified, this application to run on EGEE’s grid. Calling their project “WRF for Grid” (WRF4G), they have made running and managing limited area models on the grid as simple as using their everyday systems. This ported tool is now freely available to researchers across the globe.
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|Earthquake simulation (synthetic vs. observation) Courtesy of Shiann-Jong Lee, Institute of Earth Sciences, Academia Sinica, Taiwan|
The Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) also was present at the conference. Incorporating 28 space agencies and 20 other national and international organizations, CEOS aims to improve international cooperation and the exchange of information between civil observations of the Earth from space. Grids could offer substantial benefits to the systems and services which manage and supply the data.
In recent years, fishing stocks have plummeted. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, over 70 percent of the world’s fish stocks are fully exploited, overexploited or depleted. The effects of over-fishing are being exacerbated by global climate change, which alters the distribution of species and the location of biodiversity hotspots. Under these conditions, good fisheries management is crucial. But how can stocks be controlled if we don’t know their location and numbers?
A new grid-based tool, AquaMaps, looks like it could provide the answer. AquaMaps addresses the difficulties of modeling the global distribution of marine species. Working together, the projects D4Science and AquaMaps have established a virtual research environment (VRE) that allows users to integrate and analyze data and information from a variety of sources, to help them predict where fish species are likely to be found.