Scientists don't know enough about climate change, particularly how it will vary locally. One of the most significant climate sites, climateprediction.net has today launched an experiment you can do at home.
It's called "weatherathome" in partnership with the UK's Met. Office, and with support from Microsoft Research, to develop a regional climate model that is available for download so you can run it on your personal computer anywhere. This will be the world's largest climate experiment and will give the scientists involved a huge amount of processing power, producing results which will keep them busy for years.
You can get involved, simply by downloading the software and reporting on weather in your area. Initially this will cover the Western USA, Europe, and Southern Africa, because this is where there are plenty of computers, in addition Southern Africa is thought to be particularly vulnerable to climate change.
This is what it will look on your own computer - this is a map of surface temperature
The model will run automatically as a background process on your computer whenever you switch it on and should not affect its performance, like many other similar projects such at SETI@home which uses background computing to search for extraterrestrial intelligence. As the model runs, you can watch the weather patterns as your unique, version of the world evolves.
The results are sent back to climateprediction.net via the internet and you will be able to see a summary them on the web site. Climateprediction.net uses the same underlying software, BOINC, as many other distributed computing projects and you can participate in more than one project at a time.
Why should you get involved?
Climate change, and humanity's response to it, are issues of global importance, affecting food production, water resources, ecosystems, energy demand, insurance costs and much else. Current research suggests that the Earth will probably warm over the coming century; Climateprediction.net should, for the first time, tell us what is most likely to happen.
People from all over the world are participating - this is a map of active users
How to join up
Participating in the project is very easy. All you need to do is download and install BOINC, then attach to the Climateprediction.net project - you can select the project from a list of all available projects when you run the client.