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China's answer to AIRPOCALYPSE: Fire up the supercomputer

Tianhe-1A enlisted to analyse the cause of smoggy days

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China has decided to use the power of supercomputing to help in its on-going quest to beat the smog that is turning the country into an international coughing laughing stock.

The Tianhe-1A, which took number one spot on the oft-changing Top 500 list for a few months in 2010, will be set to work trying to figure out the cause of smoggy days.

It will work over the coming 3-5 years on a simulation model updated with data from real world monitors, of which there are 668 in 114 cities, according to Xinhua.

The hope is that it will be able to accurately forecast well in advance the conditions which create that perfect smoggy storm.

The project is a collaboration between the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences and the National Meteorological Centre, with the Tianhe-1A supplied by the National Supercomputer Center (NSC) in Tianjin.

The supercomputer, which is the predecessor of the current Top 500 number one machine, the Tianhe-2, has already been set to work in aerospace, climate prediction and oceanic simulation.

However, the problem of air pollution threatens to be one of the most challenging for the Communist Party leadership in a generation.

Just last week, the air quality index reading in Shanghai reached a record 482, which is more than 20 times the recommended daily exposure of dangerous PM2.5 particles.

A now infamous attempt by state media to diffuse the situation by claiming smog actually brings people together, gives them something to laugh about and improves equality, met with an understandably angry response from netizens last week. ®

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