The Earth Sciences Department was established with the objective of conducting research in Earth system modelling. The research focuses on atmospheric emissions, air quality, mineral dust transport, global and regional climate modelling and prediction, and climate services for private users.
The Earth Sciences Department has developed, since its creation in 2006, into a reference institution in Europe in the field of air quality and atmospheric composition modelling. Objective indicators such as the number of publications, projects obtained, PhD dissertations and positions achieved by previous members illustrate the degree of excellence achieved in the past 10 years.
EARTH SCIENCES DEPARTMENT DIRECTOR
The goal of the Earth Sciences Department is to apply the latest advances of high performance computing (HPC) and Big Data in Earth system modelling. The achievement of this goal aims at putting the department at the forefront of the emerging problem of environmental forecasting. This very broad and ambitious goal can be split into several more detailed objectives as follows:
- Implement the most efficient climate prediction system to cover time scales ranging from a month to a few decades (subseasonal-to-decadal climate prediction) at global and regional spatial scales, expanding at the same time our understanding of the climate system.
- Develop a capability to include the modelling of atmospheric processes from urban to global scales to assess their impacts on air quality and its relationship with climate.
- Research the impact of weather, atmospheric chemistry and climate on socio-economic sectors through the development of user-oriented services that ensure the transfer of the developed technology and the adaptation to a rapidly changing environment, especially for those highly vulnerable.
- Use cutting-edge HPC and Big Data technologies to increment the efficiency, portability and user-friendliness of the Earth system models developed and used, including the pre-processing and post-processing of weather, atmospheric chemistry and climate data.
The Earth Sciences Department is structured into four groups.
Oriol Jorba Casellas
The Atmospheric Composition group aims at better understanding the chemical composition of the atmosphere and its effects upon air quality, weather and climate, while improving predictions from local to global scales. We address this goal through the development and use of the NMMB/BSC Chemical Transport Model (NMMB/BSC-CTM), an online multi-scale non-hydrostatic chemical weather prediction system that can be run either globally or regionally. The group also develops and operates the CALIOPE system (“CALIdad del aire Operacional Para España”), which provides high-resolution short-term air quality forecasts for Europe, with a special focus over Spain and its main urban areas using the in-house HERMES emission model.
The Climate Prediction group aims at developing regional and global climate prediction capability for time scales ranging from a few weeks to a few decades into the future (sub-seasonal to decadal climate prediction). This objective relies on expanding our understanding of the climate processes through a deep analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of state-of-the-art climate forecast systems in comparison with the most up-to-date observational datasets, and on exploiting these detailed analyses to refine the representation of climate processes in our climate forecast systems and as well as their initialization. Although our primary tool is the EC-Earth European climate model (http://www.ec-earth.org/), we also make frequent use of large multi-model databases made available in the context of cooperative international projects (CMIP, SPECS, NMME …) for process analysis. To achieve our objectives, we rely on a wide variety of expertise, both in terms of on climate processes and regions within our group: from the stratosphere down to the deep ocean and from tropical to polar latitudes, as well as on expertise on climate modelling and data assimilation. We have contributed in the past and plan to continue contributing to near-operational climate prediction exercises: on decadal (http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/climate/seasonal-to-decadal/long-range/decadal-fc) and on seasonal (http://www.arcus.org/search-program/seaiceoutlook) time scales.
Earth System Services
Knowledge and technology transfer, via tailored services, is essential to bridge the gap between science and its end users in key sectors of society (energy, urban development, infrastructure, transport, health and agriculture) via tailored services. Non-profit services are developed in-house (weather and atmospheric composition forecasting, and climate predictions) via projects in collaboration with public administrations, private contracts with companies or funding agencies, and spin-off companies that could exploit operational opportunities.
The overall aim of the Earth System Services Group is to demonstrate the ongoing value of climate prediction services, atmospheric composition and weather forecasting to society and the economy. The group actively works in identifying user needs that will partly guide research in the BSC-ES Department and aims to quantify the impact of weather, climate, aerosols and gaseous pollutants upon socio-economic sectors through the development of user-oriented services that ensure the transfer of the technology developed and the adaptation to a rapidly changing environment, especially of those highly vulnerable.
The Earth System Services Group has an interdisciplinary approach closely collaborating with all research groups within the department (Climate predictions, Atmospheric compositions and Computational Earth Sciences) and support groups at the BSC (technology transfer, communications, visualisation, education and outreach).
Computational Earth Sciences
Kim Serradell & Oriol Mula
The Computational Earth Sciences (CES) group is a multidisciplinary team with different IT profiles that interacts closely with all the other groups of the Department. The group provides help and guidance to the scientists with the technical issues relating to their work and develops a framework for the most efficient use of HPC resources. In order to improve the use of the variety of computing resources available at the BSC and in other HPC institutions, a solid software development, profiling and optimisation area will be created for Earth system model codes towards exascale computing, and to provide feedback on this to modellers around Europe. Last but not least, the development of a framework to disseminate the outputs generated by the BSC-ES among the research and service community will be pursued. This area will take advantage of the unique environment of the BSC where research in Big Data is already a priority that will be extended in the next years.