Simulating Ancient Glacial Meltdowns gives Clues to Global Warming

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Melting icecaps are not a new phenomenon, but the causes of past deglaciations has remained a mystery. Now, researchers are using ORNL supercomputers to pinpoint the last deglaciation on planet Earth.

The simulations, conducted by Feng He and Zhengyu Liu of UW-Madison and Bette Otto-Bliesner of NCAR, help to recreate the climate during the first half of the last deglaciation period and identify why temperatures and deglaciation rates differed between the hemispheres. The research builds on earlier simulations performed at ORNL and featured in Science in 2009 and Nature in 2012. Their latest finding detailing ocean circulation as the primary cause of early deglacial warming in the Southern Hemisphere appears in the February 7 issue of Nature.

The OLCF has given the project nearly 4 continuous years of access, allowing the team to run climate simulations over 22,000 years and produce nearly 300 terabytes of data.

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