Climate is no longer considered as an unchanging component of the humanity scenario. The capacity that the human society acquired to change and affect the climate mean state and variability is by now an element belonging to the consciousness of society. In this way the climate study has started to belong to the close circle of problems with a high scientific and technological content which have an enormous impact on the human activities and public opinion, as has been recognized by the United Nations conferences on the global climate changes and by the drafting of the Climate International Agreement, the Montreal Protocol and its amendments. Research activities have the target of the updating and further development of the activities concerning the evaluation of the climate changes at the global scale, with a particular emphasis on geographical areas where the Italian interests are stronger (Mediterranean and Euro-Atlantic region) and on areas with the highest scientific relevance ( Tropics, monsoon systems, teleconnections with high latitudes). Therefore, the “Dynamical Climatology” Unit focus is on the study, primarily through numerical simulations and theoretical studies, of the natural climate variability and climatic changes induced by anthropogenic effects. The tools available consist of numerical models of different complexity, from simple linear models to general coupled atmosphere-ocean models.
Such models are used also for the production of climate change predictions at different time frequencies both at global and regional scales. At the global scale, the INGV produces multidecadal numerical simulations with a multi-component (atmosphere, ocean, marine ice, ecosystem and vegetation) Earth System Model (ESM) which are used to study climate variability from intraseasonal to decadal time scales. Such a model is also part of a seasonal forecasting system. An ocean general circulation model used in combination with sea level height satellite observations and in-situ temperature and salinity data coming from different international institutions can produce global ocean analyses and initial conditions for the seasonal forecasting activities.
In 2003 we have completed the set-up of the new computing system for the INGV in Bologna which includes two NEC SX-6 (Figura), one has 4 CPUs and 32 Gb of memory, while the other has 8CPUs, 64 Gb of memory and 5 Tb of disk space. The two vector super-computers are used separately, in an independent way. The vector machine based on 8 CPUs is primarily used for studies of climate variability, seasonal forecast and global ocean analysis production which will be carried on within international projects funded by Italian agencies (Italy-USA project, Adricosm, W-Bless) and European Union (Prism, ENACT, Ensembles, Scout, Mersea, Claris, Dynamite). The other vector machine is entirely dedicated to the operational forecasting activity in the Mediterranean Sea which is carried on within the EU project called MFSTEP.
The general characteristics of the computing system have been implemented following the examples of the most advanced vector super-computer centers in Europe, such as the Deutches Klimarechenzentrum GmbH (DKRZ) with which the INGV collaborates for the development of a new ESM (COSMOS project).