Four new projects to improve Europe’s Weather and Climate Models

The eScience Center and Atos have granted four new projects within the EU-funded open call, ESiWACE2 

Sunset on a beach
Image courtesy of Pexels on Pixabay

Climate is a hot topic, and not just in the media. Researchers from around the world are working on the subject, seeking to help improve the planet through their research. And as we’ve mentioned time and time again, research in this modern age is hard to do without research software. That is why we have teamed up with Atos to grant four new projects that aim to improve Europe’s weather and climate models using our research software expertise.  

These projects are funded as part of an open call published by the Center of Excellence in Simulation of Weather and Climate in Europe (ESiWACE2). ESiWACE2 Services enables short collaborative projects that offer guidance, engineering and advice by the ESiWACE2 consortium partners to support exascale preparations for weather and climate models in Europe. Known as Service 1 projects, they target developing communities and assist with porting codes to new hardware platforms, such as Graphics Processing Units (GPUs). Such platforms will improve model efficiency and prepare the software to enable model execution on existing and near-future hardware architectures, as well as simulate experiments at unprecedented grid resolutions or ensemble sizes. 

This is the third and final year of Service 1 projects within ESiWACE2. After two years of successfully collaborating with scientists to accelerate the software underlying climate simulations, we are excited to continue our efforts to prepare the weather and climate modelling communities in Europe for the upcoming exascale revolution. Congratulations to all the winning projects! 

The four awarded projects in 2022 are the following: 

OGS Transport model (OGSTM) 

Paolo Lazzari, National Institute of Oceanography and Applied Geophysics (OGS), Italy 

OGSTM is an oceanographic transport model that is coupled with a Biogeochemical Flux Model, with the aim of modelling marine biogeochemistry. This software is routinely used as the transport component of the biogeochemical state of the Mediterranean Sea (MedBFM) forecasting system. The latter is embedded in the EU Copernicus Marine Service (CMS) to operationally produce analysis and forecasts of biogeochemistry in the Mediterranean Sea.  

In this project, we will investigate how the performance of the code may be improved by using GPUs. 

Regional Model: REGCM4 

Graziano Giuliani – The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Italy 

The Regional Climate Model system (RegCM) is flexible, portable and easy to use. It can be applied to any region of the world, with grid spacing of up to about 10 km (hydrostatic limit), and to a wide range of studies, from process studies to paleoclimate and future climate simulation.  

In this project, we will investigate how GPUs can be employed to accelerate the compute-intensive operations in the model. The goal is to use GPUs to enable the 900+ RegCM user community to perform simulations on higher resolutions, for example 3km, in order to evaluate the future of climate extremes. These extremes are expected to change over multiple regions all over the world. A number of pilot studies are currently targeting high threat areas for climate change such as the Indo-Gangetic plane, Southern Europe, the Sahel Region and the la Plata basin. The RegCM model can provide useful information on future extremes in temperature and precipitation, serving as red flag warnings for possible life disruptive changes in different regions around the globe.  


Bart van Stratum, Chiel van Heerwaarden – Wageningen University and Research, the Netherlands 

MicroHH is a software for large-eddy simulation (LES), which is primarily used to study turbulent flows in the atmosphere. The main difference with numerical weather prediction codes is that LES models do not rely on physical parameterizations for turbulence and clouds. These are explicitly resolved by the LES model, which can lead to higher quality weather forecasts. MicroHH is already implemented in CUDA, a programming language specific to GPUs. In this project, we will investigate how to improve the performance of the existing CUDA implementation of MicroHH and optimize the performance of the code. We plan to use Kernel Tuner, developed by the Netherlands eScience Center, to automatically optimize the GPU code for the best performance. Finally, we will also look into accelerating MicroHH on multi-GPU systems. 


Alok Kumar Gupta – NORCE, Norway 

The Bergen Layered Ocean Model (BLOM) is the ocean component of the Norwegian Earth System Model (NorESM). NorESM itself is a global Earth system model that figured in the recent CMIP5 and CMIP6 projects, and it is expected that contributions to the upcoming international intercomparison projects will make use of it. The goal of this project is to improve the model’s performance on the latest computing architectures, to enable it to run at higher resolutions for more fine-grained simulations. In this project, the Research Software Engineers at Atos and the eScience Center will investigate how to improve the performance of the software using OpenMP. Furthermore, they will explore the possibilities of using GPUs through directive-based approaches such as OpenMP and OpenACC

To learn more about the projects, visit the ESiWACE2 website

ESiWACE2 has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 823988.