The World Data Centre for Climate (WDCC) of the International Council for Science (ICSU) is operated by the Model and Data Group at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology (M&D/MPI-M) and the German Climate Computing Centre (DKRZ). The WDCC's database contains the latest climate research data on the state of the climate and anticipated climatic changes. 115 terabytes of storage are exclusively dedicated to IPCC simulation data for the new report of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or IPCC, which is due to be published in 2007. This corresponds to around 24,500 DVDs.
"Climate research experts generate vast amounts of data in their complex simulations. The research findings can only be processed if the data can be accessed quickly and efficiently at all times. All computations are stored to enable subsequent comparisons. That's why the database is designed for vast data growth up to petabyte level," explained Dr. Michael Lautenschlager of the Max Planck Institute's Model & Data Group.
Technical information about the database
NEC installed the database system at the DKRZ three years ago in conjunction with a 1.5 teraflop NEC SX-6 series vector supercomputer. The government funded the vector supercomputer with around € 35 million euros and it is the fastest supercomputer for climate research in Europe. It can perform up to 1.5 billion computing operations per second and stores the computation results to hard disks at a speed of up to 450 megabytes per second.
The DKRZ has hard disks with a total capacity of 100 terabytes. Magnetic tapes libraries, with a total capacity of over 6 petabytes, are used to satisfy additional storage requirements. Several fast NEC TX7 data servers with Intel Itanium2 processors handle post processing, storage management and run the database system. They always know precisely which data are stored on which hard disks and tapes. The modelling results are stored in an Oracle relational database and researchers from all around the world have access to them for further study. The total system, consisting of supercomputer and memory, covers 750 square metres of space at the Hamburg Geomatikum.