Paul Scherrer Institute simulates climate change


Villigen AG – Employees of the Paul Scherrer Institute have led an international study on climate change. An extensive computer simulation was used to run through 4,000 scenarios to provide guidance to policymakers and the business community.

Researchers at the Villigen-based Paul Scherrer Institute(PSI) have conducted an international study on climate change involving scientists from China, Finland, Ireland, Sweden and the United States. According to a media release, models were calculated on a so-called supercomputer in which 4,000 possible scenarios were run through. The goal of the research was to determine which measures would have the greatest effect and at the same time be economically advantageous in achieving the net-zero emissions target. The study contains scenarios for 15 regions of the world and simulates the development in ten-year steps until 2100.

What is new about the experiment is that the evaluation models take into account many uncertainties that have not been present in common models so far. “We considered 18 uncertainty factors, including population and economic growth, climate sensitivity, resource potential, the impact of changes in agriculture and forestry, the cost of energy technologies, and the decoupling of energy demand and economic development,” James Glynn of Columbia University in New York, which participated in the study, is quoted as saying in the release. In each of the applied scenarios, 72,000 variables were varied, and the final data set has a data volume of 700 gigabytes.

In order to make economic and political decisions at the national level, the models still need to be supplemented with concrete national data. “An energy system that enables the transition to a carbon-free economy is capital intensive and requires the mobilization of resources from all stakeholders,” explains Evangelos Panos, PSI researcher and leader of the study. ce/ww