China’s EarthLab begins trials as the country’s first facility to explore interactions with the Earth system

Earth is a sphere, and it includes spheres: atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere – in short, all of the cycles that interact to influence Earth’s weather and climate. Now, to better study how the spheres interact and impact the planet, China is launching EarthLab in Beijing. On June 23, after EarthLab’s opening ceremony, researchers will begin trials to demonstrate the facility’s ability to integrate simulations and observations to more accurately project results and provide a scientific basis for predicting and mitigating things such as natural weather disasters.

The EarthLab research team published an introduction to the facility on June 23 in Advances in atmospheric science.

“Since the Earth system is extremely large and complex, traditional theories and observations are too limited to meet the overall demands of the scientific research community,” said corresponding author of the article, He Zhang, researcher. from EarthLab affiliated with the Institute of Atmospheric Physics (IAP) at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). “EarthLab is the first comprehensive virtual terrestrial laboratory in China for the simulation of the physical climate system, environmental system, ecological system, solid earth system and space weather system as a whole with a high performance scientific computing platform . “

In partnership with Tsinghua University, IAP / CAS began construction of EarthLab in 2018. After successful testing, inspections and approvals, EarthLab is expected to become fully operational – and open to universities and research institutes around the world. – in 2022.

“Other countries, such as the United States and Japan, as well as some European countries, have built specialized digital simulation facilities,” said Zhang, noting that China’s vast and complex topography has been difficult to navigate. model accurately with varying levels of observation and experimentation. resources across the country. “Meteorological, climatic and environmental disasters occur frequently and severely with severe loss of life and property. Therefore, a global earth system simulation system, as well as a high-precision regional environmental simulation system, is urgently needed to better predict climate and environmental variability, and to prevent and mitigate disasters more effectively. natural resources and formulate relevant national plans in a more scientific way. “

According to Zhang, EarthLab will also become a science awareness base for children and students to learn more about earth sciences. During a IAP awareness day in 2017, the children voted for EarthLab’s Chinese name: Huan. The name means “a place as vast as the earth where people live and on which they depend”.

“Our ultimate goal is to predict Earth systems over a wide range of time scales, from seconds to hundreds of years, and spatial scales, from 10 meters to millions of meters,” Zhang said. “Along with other Earth simulators around the world, the development and construction of EarthLab will advance not only the understanding of Earth’s spheres and their interactions, as well as the past, present and future of Earth. Earth, but also advances in computational mathematics, high performance computing and technology, and other broader fields.

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