Creating Clearer Climate Computer Codes

Eli is a contributing correspondent for Science magazine.

British software engineers Nick Barnes and David Jones have spent the past 3 years trying to simplify computer codes used to analyze world temperature records. Today they unveiled a project to broaden their volunteer work, which they hope will make climate change science more transparent.

The project, called the Climate Code Foundation, offers a simplified version of the GISTEMP analysis software used by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City. It seeks not only to make individual climate programs like GISTEMP clearer but also to build a movement so that scientists make computer codes more user friendly and open-sourced as part of their normal work, especially in the run-up to the 2013 IPCC report.

“The public’s confidence in climate science is being eroded,” says Jones in a video explaining the project. Although he believes “the science is sound,” he says that “trivial matters like not having access to source codes” may be creating the perception that the science “cannot be trusted.”

NASA is thrilled about the effort, as his code is about 1/8 the size of NASA’s and produces the same results as GISTEMP when given the same raw temperature data. The pair has also been asked by the UK Met Office to participate in an effort to make a new global temperature record.

Posted in Climate, Technology