Movie plot under scrutiny
The plot of the blockbuster environmental disaster movie "The Day After Tomorrow" is being tested scientists.
11:29 22 June 2004
The plot of the blockbuster environmental disaster movie "The Day After Tomorrow" is being tested by the world's largest climate modelling experiment.
Dismissed as scientifically unfeasible by some, the big budget film depicts flurries of hurricanes, tornadoes, and tidal waves as Earth descends into the next Ice Age, prompted by disruption of the Gulf Stream.
"Extreme scenarios make great films, but for practical planning we need to know how likely it is that such events will actually happen," explains Dr Mat Collins from the Met Office.
Climateprediction.net is undertaking the investigation. This global experiment is particularly powerful as it harnesses the computing power of 49,000 participants, across 130 countries, after they download state of the art climate models from the net.
The software is available to anyone, and each participant receives a unique but plausible picture of the state of the atmosphere, land and near-surface ocean in their model. Graphics illustrate how the Earth may change as carbon dioxide levels rise and the Gulf Stream shuts down.
"There is no way we could complete an experiment this size even using the world's biggest supercomputer," according to Carl Christensen, the project's chief computer scientist.
The model runs for a few weeks without affecting ordinary computer tasks, and the results are sent back to the project scientists online.