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Amid the current global pandemic and all of the research activity associated with it, our lives have changed dramatically.  World economies have been greatly impacted, but I remain confident that things will recover in a few months.  Open source software and supercomputers around the world have been helping in that research, as discussed in a recent blog post.

Turning our attention to long-term risks for the moment, most of us are well aware that climate change is a big issue.  It seems like extreme weather events and global warming are constantly in the news. How big a problem are we facing? According to the World Economic Forum[1] (WEF), climate and environmental concerns dominate the top five long-term global risks in terms of likelihood. They identify these risks as:

  1. Extreme weather
  2. Climate action failure
  3. Natural disasters
  4. Biodiversity loss
  5. Human-made environmental disasters

Without being overly sensational or dramatic, they refer to the situation as a planetary emergency.

But there is some good news. The WEF also states that “the window for action is still open”. Awareness is growing fast and the search for solutions is gathering momentum.

How are open source technologies and communities involved in helping to tackle the climate change crisis?  Here are a few examples:

  • Measuring and monitoring climate change.

Instrumentation and sensors play a vitally important role in gathering all the information needed to better understand the environmental and weather pattern changes we’re experiencing. Data needs to be collected from a host of devices, often at remote and inhospitable locations. These include thermometers; rain gauges; air samplers; Argo floats for sea level measurements; satellite images of ice in Polar regions or weather tracking; and a whole lot more.

IoT, edge computing and embedded devices are increasingly useful for collecting and processing all these measurements. What’s the open source link here? Linux is used in 3 out of every 4 embedded devices, IoT gateways or edge nodes that use an OS.

  • Data modeling and predictive analysis.

Getting a full and accurate understanding of the evolving environmental and climate situation has never been easy. It has involved a great deal of number-crunching and data modeling by some of the world’s most respected organizations.

There are open source software projects specifically designed to help with these tasks, such as Open Climate Workbench and Isca. But whatever tools are used,  HPC solutions are bound to be a prerequisite for all the compute-intensive work involved. And Linux is the undisputed champion when it comes to everything HPC related. Why? Because it delivers the very best performance for any given budget.

If you need a little proof, take a look at the experience of ZAMG. They are using SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for High Performance Computing to power their advanced weather forecasting and climate modeling activities.

  • Innovative new approaches.

The WEF highlights technology as part of both the problem and the solution to climate-related issues. More than 50% of the world’s population is now online, a million new people go online for the first time every day, and two-thirds of the global population now owns a mobile device. Our increasing use of technology, combined with population growth and increased urbanization, are big factors in rising energy demands that are forecast to grow by over 25% over the next 20 years. All of this is having a drastic impact on infrastructure, environment, and climate.

If we’re going to tackle all these problems, it’s obvious we’re going to have to do things differently. We need radically new ways to save resources, to adopt more sustainable methods, and to embrace hyper-efficient smart technologies.

In short, we need modernization and innovation – and the open source community and ethos are at the forefront of delivering both. Project Owl is a great example. It’s a recently announced IoT initiative to enable emergency communications in the event of natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods or earthquakes.

As you would expect, SUSE is fully committed to the open source philosophy and approach. We are also proud to be supporting efforts to raise awareness of climate change and environmental dangers. Hence, our sponsorship for Lewis Pugh’s East Antarctica expedition and his “Action for Oceans” campaign.

If you’d like to know more, please take a look at Lewis Pugh’s recent blog or visit the Lewis Pugh Foundation website.

Learn more about what we have to offer in support of data-intensive simulations and modeling on our web page for SUSE High Performance Computing.

Thanks for reading!

Jeff Reser

@JeffReserNC

[1] The Global Risks Report 2020. World Economic Forum.

 

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