When I started this blog just over a year ago, the technology and telecoms sectors were just getting started on addressing the challenges of climate change – from more energy efficient products, to internal corporate policy that reduce carbon emissions, to services that help other industries reduce their environmental impact.
Today, nearly all tech and communications company have some kind of policy, strategy and marketing in place to address specific areas of climate change, and corporate social responsibility in general. That said, the technology and telecoms sectors have mainly restricted their environmental initiative in areas addressing the needs of business and consumers.
When it comes to address really, really huge technology requirements, like the study of atmospheric impact, you really have to look towards the scientific community, who have been gathering and compiling data on the earth’s climate for decades.
These kind of requirements scale to terabits of data that is simply beyond the capabilities of single facilities, giving birth to new operating models such as cloud computing.
For a really interesting overview of some of the data storage, processing and communications requirements of the study of climate change by the scientific community, read this piece published here on the International Science Grid This Week site by authors, Simon Hettrick, from OMII-UK, and Phil Kershaw at the UK’s National Environment Research Council (NERC) DataGrid.
The article describes a massive storage and control access challenge presented by the data that has been compiled by climate change scientists around the global.
According to the authors, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) would like organise some fifteen hundred terabytes of data across multiple facilities for climate change researchers from across the globe.
While the article focuses on an access control solution developed by the NERC DataGrid that provides authentication and authorisation of users across the multiple data centres, it does lay out clearly the huge logistical challenges of management terabits of digital data.
The example highlighted by the writers is a consideration by the IPCC at developing a distributed archive of the data using the pooled resources of the British Atmospheric Data Centre, the World Data Centre for Climate in Germany, and facilities led by the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison.
How those facilities can be connected to each other over networks, and how those networks can be made easily accessible from across the globe is certainly some interesting food for thought for the telecoms and information technology industry.