Sun | Jul 22, 2018

UWI to get supercomputer to aid in making better climate change-related decisions

Published:Friday | July 8, 2016 | 12:00 AMJason Cross
Professor Ishen Kumba Kahwa (seated right), deputy principal, University of the West Indies (UWI), exchanges documents with Mervyn Eyre (seated left), head, Fujitsu, Caribbean, Central America and Mexico, shortly after signing a contract for the acquisition of a supercomputer. Looking on are (from left) Simone Whilby, deputy client executive, Fujitsu; Ainsley Henry, programme manager, UWI; Dr Georgiana Gordon-Strachan, director, Mona Office for Research and Innovation; and Gerard Allenz, climate change senior specialist, IDB, Washington.

A new supercomputer that will generate accurate data on climate change-related issues is expected to arrive at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, in the next two months.

The supercomputer, which costs approximately J$90 million (US$742,000), will provide relevant data on issues concerning food security, water security, and other crucial areas that may be affected by climate change.

It will be made possible through a grant from the Inter-American Development Bank and the Climate Investment Fund.

The Mona Information and Technology Services, Fujitsu Caribbean, and Dell International collaborated to design the computer.

A contract for the provision of the computer was signed yesterday by representatives of the UWI, Fujitsu Caribbean, and Dell International.




Ainsley Henry, programme manager for the regional pilot programme, said the problem of climate change is not only faced by Jamaica, but is a regional concern, and, therefore, should be tackled through integration.

"Essentially, what that is, it's a supercomputer that is going to be used by the climate studies group to do modelling on a regional level and also on a local level," Henry said.

"What we're hoping will come out of this is more accurate and targeted information that can be used to make decisions on a local level. It will give us an opportunity to be able to do things that in the past we would have to send abroad to get done, but now, that will be done in Jamaica."

He added: "The things humans have been doing on the planet thus far have caused the global climate to shift so we have things from increased frequency and strength of hurricanes, which is relevant to us. We have longer periods of drought, heavier and more intense periods of rainfall.

"If you look at what has happened in Jamaica over the last few years, all of those things have happened here."

Henry said the machine would assist with the making of on-the-ground decisions and allow proper advice to be given throughout the region to farmers on what crops to grow and when.

Studying issues related to rising sea levels will also be a feature of the machine.

"We also have to be concerned about things like sea-level rise, meaning the increased salinity in groundwater. It means greater impacts on coastal areas in the event of hurricanes," Henry said.