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'It is the equivalent of harnessing the power of a supercomputer'

Myles Allen has teamed up with the BBC to harness the power of the public's PCs to predict climate change

Myles Allen is running the world's largest scientific experiment to predict the future climate.

The Oxford University physicist teamed up with the BBC this week, as part of its series of programmes on climate change, to harness the massed computing power of the public when their computers are not being used.

Participants are asked to download a computer climate model that will run thousands of times with tiny variations to help the scientists understand the effect of small changes to the environment and to refine their predictions.

Subsequent to the BBC coverage on Tuesday, Dr Allen said: "Some 5,000 people already signed up today and it will hit the main news at 6pm. That's the equivalent of harnessing the power of a supercomputer. If another 20,000 sign up tonight, that will be double the capacity of the world's largest supercomputer looking at climate change - the earth simulator in Japan. From the research point of view, it's getting more computing capacity and doing research we couldn't hope to do in any other way."

Expanding the project to include thousands more computers will allow the team to create atmosphere and ocean climate change simulations that run from 1920 to 2080.

Dr Allen first explained his idea for the project - www.climateprediction.net - in an article on DIY climate prediction in 1999. The project launched in 2003 and 25,000 users worldwide registered on the first weekend.

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