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23 September 2014

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Thousands of you took part in the world’s largest climate experiment

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About the experiment

Thousands of you took part in the world’s largest climate modelling experiment. Each person downloaded a computer model that used spare processing power to predict future climate.

Scientists at Oxford University eagerly waited for the results from each person’s computer. As the data arrived, the Oxford team compiled the most comprehensive prediction yet for the Earth’s climate up to 2080.

“My family live in the north of Scotland, within a reclaimed piece of land from the sea, and flooding will have an impact there. As a result, I was very interested in being part of the experiment.” Fiona Climate change experiment participant “The BBC Climate change project has been the most exciting and innovative event in our last production year. I am proud that this is science that matters in action, and has only been achieved by working together with our audience.” John Lynch Head of science programmes at the BBC
Did you take part?
Over 250 000 of you downloaded the BBC Climate change experiment. If you took part, thanks. You have contributed to an important scientific experiment.
You can find the raw results on this website. The Oxford team will be publishing the full results in a science journal.
Why so many people?
Predicting the future of the Earth’s climate is difficult and requires lots of computer processing power. That’s why we needed your help.
The experiment used a method known as distributed computing. The combined spare capacity of a large number of your home computers matched the power of a supercomputer. More about distributed computing and climate prediction.
Sir David Attenboroughplay video Video: David Attenborough explains how the experiment worked
What makes this experiment different?
Other climate prediction experiments have been conducted, but none on this scale. Nick Faull, an Oxford University climate scientist working on the project, explains: “This experiment has the largest number of computer models ever. Other experiments of this kind often use less than 100 models and we have thousands.”
“Climate prediction involves so many different parameters and approximations that the only way to be confident which models are a good representation of the real world is to try each variation and see how well it does. This experiment has allowed us to try an extremely large number of models.”
Who was behind the experiment?
The BBC teamed up with, a consortium of research organisations, led by the University of Oxford, and including The Met Office, The University of California - Berkeley, The London School of Economics, The Open University, The University of Reading and The Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. This experiment was funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council, with additional support from Microsoft Corporation.


See a map of everyone who took part in the experiment


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