Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hey people, this is an article I picked while browsing around. Sorry about the cut and paste job :p

Dean Williams and the Science of Climate Change
By Roger Witherspoon
Oct 12, 2007, 14:29

When the United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change contacted the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and asked for help there was, at first, consternation.

Dean Williams, senior research computer scientist at the Laboratory, recalled “Our program director, Dave Bader, came to me and said they want us to coordinate and standardize all this data from around the world. Can we do this?

“I said we can not not do this. And then we set out to figure out how and it led to the creation of the Earth System Grid.”

The awarding of the 2007 Nobel Peace Price to both former Vice President Al Gore and the International Panel on Climate Change has cast an international spotlight on the behind the scenes work of Williams, one of the world’s most influential black research scientists.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the prize jointly for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.

It is difficult to envision the impact of global warming – or to determine its existence and causes – considering the disparate impact it has on climate conditions around the globe.

Parts of Texas this summer had 18 inches of rain a few hours while much of the southwest was experiencing record setting drought and fire conditions, and the northeast was wet and unseasonably cool. On a global scale, the disparate impacts are even greater.

It would have been impossible for the International Panel on Climate Change -- IPCC – to have come to the unanimous conclusions on trends in the earth’s climate and the impact of human development were it not for the contribution of Dean Williams, whose work over the past 15 years has provided the computational underpinnings of global climate science.

Williams’ first contribution was the development of the Climate Data Analysis Tool – CDAT – an open source analysis and visualization software package which allows researchers to simultaneously look at multiple climate models and compare observed results.

This was followed by the development of the Earth System Grid, which standardizes how data is collected and provides a common framework for the world’s climate modeling centers. It has changed the way the world’s climate scientists operate.

During the development, Williams sent out terabyte discs to every major climate modeling group, and has since uploaded more than 300 terabytes of data into the Earth system Grid for the IPCC.

At Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Williams said, “we are a neutral climate model center. All the world’s models come in to get vetted. We do comparisons of all the climate models and inter-comparisons around the world.

“The works is scientists will run a model at their site, and then run it through our filter to get a standard format.”

It was this system which provided the world’s scientific community with the certainty exhibited in the current IPCC panel on climate change validating the human cause of global climate disruptions.

The Earth System Grid has been expanded to provide operational nodes at 23 climate research sites around the globe so new information can be downloaded directly for all climate researchers to use.

When informed of the Nobel Prize Award to the IPCC Williams, stunned, at first could only keep repeating “Wow! This is awesome!”

“I’m speechless at this award,” he said after a few minutes reflection. “Everyone in the climate community is a winner today. Our whole team should be jumping up and down.”

Williams grew up on South Central Los Angeles knowing the direction he wanted to take in life at an early age.

“I was always best in my class in math,” he said. “I told myself in fourth grade I’d be a master in math one day.”

He earned a bachelors degree in applied mathematics and statistics, and then a master’s degree in computer science at California State University at Chico and then joined Lawrence Livermore. When he is not standardizing the world’s climate research, he coaches high school track.

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