The Pacific Ocean has been plagued with abnormally warm temperatures, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting. Titled "The Blob" by scientists, this tepid patch of water has researchers asking a number of questions about its origins and its effects on the Pacific Northwest, and particularly California, which is in its fourth year of a drought, and Oregon, which is in its second.
Due to budgetary restrictions, many of these questions can't be answered without the help of everyday PC users like you and me. Researchers at Oregon State University are currently lacking the millions of dollars required to purchase a powerful enough super-computer, but they have been able to design software to run experiments in the background of your computer when it's not in use.
Typically, in situations like this, scientists are dependent on controls to carry out experiments. Unfortunately, these hearty scientists are faced with every PC enthusiast's nightmare: a significant lack of power. For that reason, they're counting on volunteers to help run the experiments from the comfort of their own homes.
By downloading and running climateprediction.net's BOINC client software, you can personally aid researchers in comparing past weather, and the atmospheric factors of years past, with those of the present, according to OregonLive.com.
After its installation, the software will automatically set itself to run in the background as your computer stands idle. As you return to computer use, the program will be suspended for later resumption. Depending on the frequency of your computer use, the program could potentially complete its processes in a few days.
With the appropriate graphics setting enabled, the program will permit users to view the simulation in real-time and will immediately deliver a summary of the results. To be clear, the simulation will be running climate models on the computers of those using the software, comparing thousands of different winter seasons in the western United States.
The study itself is the result of a partnership between OSU and England's University of Oxford. Friederike Otto, senior coordinator and scientific coordinator at climateprediction.net, who is employed by Oxford, says that if climate change is the cause in all of this, "that would mean that we have to prepare for more of this to come in the future."
Nonetheless, without the help of a few cooperative volunteer computer owners, it would undoubtedly be a much more expensive and strenuous task for scientists seeking to understand these bizarre weather conditions beleaguering the Pacific.
So if you want to put your shoulder to the wheel in determining whether the rain shortage is a product of the blob, or climate change, or other factors, consider contacting them at the link above. You could make a difference.