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The Institute of Global Environment and Society, Inc. (IGES) - a non-profit, tax exempt research institute, incorporated in the State of Maryland - was established to improve understanding and prediction of the variations of the Earth's climate through scienti... more.
James Kinter Advisory Board Chair
Institute for Global Environment and Society
COLA / IGES Knowledge-Transfer partner
In addition, Shukla's long-time associate, James Kinter, participated in the same double dip, though on a less grandiose scale.
Kinter, also a Professor at George Mason, doubled his 2014 university salary of $180,038 with $171,320 from IGES, for a total 2014 income of $351,358. Edwin Schneider was a Research Scientist at the "Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Interactions, University of Maryland, Dept. of Meteorology" from 1984-1993, James Kinter was Assistant Professor, Department of Meteorology, University of Maryland from 1984-87, subsequently becoming Research Scientist with "COLA, Univ. MD, College Park, MD" from 1987-1993. In 1992, Shukla, Kinter and Schneider, while still presumably employees of the University of Maryland, appear to have submitted a proposal to NSF for funding via a private Maryland non-profit corporation, then recently incorporated by Shukla (the Institute for Global Environment and Security, Inc.), as, on January 6, 1993, NSF awarded three grants to IGES totalling $1.7 million, with Shukla, Kinter and Schneider all acting as PIs or co-PIs. In 1992, Shukla, Kinter and Schneider, while still presumably employees of the University of Maryland, appear to have submitted a proposal to NSF for funding via a private Maryland non-profit corporation, then recently incorporated by Shukla (the Institute for Global Environment and Security, Inc.), as, on January 6, 1993, NSF awarded three grants to IGES totalling $1.7 million, with Shukla, Kinter and Schneider all acting as PIs or co-PIs. Kinter, Schneider, Straus and Dirmeyer all moved from the University of Maryland in 1993 to join the new enterprise. In 2002 (eight years after Shukla), Kinter, Schneider and Straus were all appointed to the staff of the Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences department, George Mason University in 2002, coinciding with expansion of their climate program. All three continued their employment with IGES (COLA), where Kinter became Director in 2004. A year later (May 3, 2014), the University announced that Kinter and associates had been awarded $10.5 million from the NSF-NOAA-NASA group for continuation of the COLA work, now titled "Predictability and Prediction of Climate from Days to Decades.": Kinter and his team were awarded $4.5 million by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, $2.5 million by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and $3.5 million by the National Science Foundation to work on a five-year project called "Predictability and Prediction of Climate from Days to Decades." Kinter leads the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies based at George Mason University. Verardo's wife, Stacey Verardo, is a colleague of Shukla, Kinter, Klinger and the others in the AOES department at George Mason, while Verardo himself is a member of the Adjunct Faculty at George Mason. (Update: David Verardo has commented below that his "wife is a geologist who has worked in the department long before climate dynamics was a part of the department" and "has no professional relationship with the climate dynamics group beyond serving in the same department and working on instructional issues that arise at the university" and that he himself "do not handle proposals from GMU because of obvious conflicts of interest but even more practical, the awards to climate dynamic research are not in my NSF program.") Five other George Mason employees were RICO20 signatories, four of whom are long-time Shukla associates: Dirmeyer, Straus, Paul Schopf and Barry Klinger. (It's interesting that James Kinter didn't sign it.) The other George Mason RICO 20 signatory, Edward Maibach, is in some sort of climate communications and, together with Heidi Cullen, holds a $2,998,178 grant from NSF. IGES' webpage says that its corporate objective was to share "the fruits" of its research "with society as a whole", though, in practice, an equally important objective seems to have been to share the fruits of its research funding with Shukla (and Kinter).
James Kinter, director of the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies at the Institute of Global Environment and Society, was granted permission to use systems provided by XSEDE - and its predecessor TeraGrid - to run climate models with high spatial resolutions, requiring large amounts of processing power.
Based on these simulations, Kinter and his colleagues calculated that the likelihood of extreme drought in the US Great Plains and Florida is set to increase from the average frequency of four out of every 50 years to 20 years of extreme drought out of every 50 years by the end of the 21st century. Using the XSEDE infrastructure, Kinter and his colleagues were able to simulate US climate over long periods at the spatial resolution normally used for producing 10-day weather forecasts today. "The pattern of increasing probability of extreme drought in our simulations is quite similar to the summer 2012 drought severity map showing 63% of the lower 48 US states in moderate to severe drought," says Kinter. "Our results suggest that, while the 2012 event itself cannot be ascribed to human-induced climate change per se, the severe situation we are experiencing today is likely to become entirely too commonplace in the future." However, not all climate researchers are as fortunate as Kinter and his colleagues to be granted dedicated access to some of the US National Science Foundation's finest high-performance computing equipment. And, with competition for access to supercomputers fierce, climate scientists are often required to make pragmatic decisions, such as limiting the spatial resolution of their models, so as to save on computing time. After all, even at moderate resolutions, one could reasonably expect global-scale models to require several months of supercomputing time to produce just a century's worth of climate data. Speaking at the recent XSEDE12 conference in Chicago, Kinter discussed the significant effects that changes in spatial resolution of climate models can have on their outcomes. Working with the Athena supercomputer in 2009/10, he and his team were able to run simulations of boreal summer climate at a 7-kilometer resolution over the course of eight summers, whereas researchers had previously only been able to simulate a single week or month at this level of detail. While running these simulations, the team found that even small changes in spatial resolution could have large impacts on the outcomes of the climate models. He cites research by collaborators that showed how low-resolution models of the Gulf Stream off the east coast of the US put rain associated with the weather pattern in the wrong place, whereas high-resolution models were able to delineate the bands of rain off the east coast with accuracy. Of course, while ever-faster supercomputers mean that climate models can feasibly be run at increasingly high spatial resolutions, this doesn't mean that a solution to the difficulties of climate modeling is yet in sight. The research conducted by Kinter and his team was pioneering work and required many ad hoc fixes and workarounds to complete the simulations. For example, the team suffered with issues relating to the memory available per node on Athena and the output from their simulations was capped by the bandwidth limits between both processors and disk and disk and HPSS tape. According to Kinter, turning the ad hoc solutions he and his team came up with to deal with these issues into systematic, repeatable solutions is the next step which needs to be taken. However, some of the issues his team faced were even more difficult to overcome: "We were in a unique situation, because we had dedicated access to Athena 24/7 for six months. That introduced unique challenges like how to keep the queue loaded with jobs so that the machine never went idle and how to manage the output data. We generated output at a rate that would fill Athena's disks every 6 days, so we had a fairly serious data management challenge. The project generated nearly 900TB of data in total and this is now available to researchers around the world hoping to improve the next generation of climate models. The following list of people collaborated with Kinter on this research:
James Kinter, director of the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies at the Institute of Global Environment and Society, presented this historical tidbit on the second morning of the recent XSEDE12 conference in Chicago.
He then showcased the latest advances in climate and weather modeling enabled by the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE), the National Science Foundation (NSF)-supported cyberinfrastructure for open science. "You might think there's a debate about climate change," Kinter said. According to Kinter, scientists have improved our understanding of the physical processes involved in atmospheric modeling and incorporated these insights into the evolving codes. To test this, Kinter and his colleagues simulated a variety of climate scenarios at resolutions ranging from 7 kilometers (the most fine-grained) to 125 kilometers (the most coarse-grained). To accomplish this massive computing feat, Kinter's team was granted a special allocation of computing time on the Athena supercomputer at the National Institute for Computational Sciences (NICS) in 2009 and 2010. This was "the smoking gun of whether humans are responsible for the rise in temperature," Kinter said. However, the trends at regional scale are not as discernible. Is that because the trends are not there or because the models lack the acuity to see them? Kinter and his colleagues' investigations of high spatial resolution shed light on this question. Other simulations explored the probability of extreme drought in the Midwest, Europe and elsewhere in the future. By his estimates, the Midwest will experience the levels of extreme drought it is currently experiencing in 20 years out of every 50 - a four-fold increase. "This drought will be the norm at the end of the 21st century," Kinter said, "according to these simulations." He also presented a number of key examples where increases in model resolution impacted the clarity and content of results. For instance, he cited research by collaborators that showed how low-resolution models of the East Coast Gulf Stream put rain associated with the weather pattern in the wrong place, whereas high-resolution models delineate the bands of rain off the East Coast with accuracy. After outlining the advantages of higher-resolution models, Kinter elaborated on the challenges that such a change generates. Biases in the models, the parameterization of small time and spatial scale effects (like clouds), and the coupling of global climate models with cloud resolving models, are all difficult, but not impossible, to overcome. However, the primary challenge that Kinter's group and the community are dealing with is the "exaflood of data" produced by high-resolution and highly complex coupled models. For Project Athena, the total data volume generated and now resident at NICS is 1.2 petabytes. However, the total data volume on spinning disk at the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies for Project Athena is capped at 50 terabytes. This creates difficulties. Running on TeraGrid systems at large-scale for the first time with so much data, "everything broke," Kinter said. He and his colleagues had to find ad hoc solutions to complete the simulations. The next step, he said, is to take those ad hoc solutions and use them to develop systematic, repeatable solutions. Put another way: to deal with the exaflood, the community needs to progress from Noah's Ark to a professional shipping industry. "We need exaflood insurance," Kinter concluded.