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BBC climate project hit by bug

SETI-style simulation hits the skids

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The BBC's climate change distributed computing project has been scuppered by an error in its climate model.

The simulation was set to run conditions from 1920 to 2080. The scientists behind it have had to reset everyone's program back to where it was two months ago.

An errant man-made sulphate parameter is responsible for the setback. Sulphate particles reflect sunlight back out, reducing the overall energy in the atmosphere. The chemicals weren't being ramped up quickly enough to simulate global industrialisation.

The bug means the results from the last two months show what would happen if more sunlight was able to get through unadulterated. The climate warmed faster than it should have because of the glitch.

Principal investigator Myles Allan reckons the effort hasn't been wasted though. He said: "At some point in the future, we may have done an experiment like this anyway."

The results were due to be a centrepiece of BBC Four's summer “Climate Chaos” season. The TV schedule will now be rejigged so the data can be salvaged. Details of the technical background to the problem can be found here. ®

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