Developing a computer model that can predict weather, climate and air quality is tricky.
A fundamental problem is how to accurately forecast the height of the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) as it develops during daytime heating.
The ABL is the lower layer of the atmosphere — the part we live in. Its height grows throughout the day, from a few hundred meters in the morning to a kilometer or more in the afternoon. The rising hot air within the ABL means that it is highly turbulent. Any inaccurate calculation of this boundary layer height will cause flawed predictions of things such as temperature and pollutant concentrations.
As Harm Jonker of the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands notes: “If a model cannot get the boundary layer height correct, it cannot get anything correct.”
In an attempt to overcome this obstacle, a team of scientists from several different institutions initiated the PINNACLE project, using the resources of the DEISA grid of supercomputers.