New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge

A Breath of Fresh Air

Team: 63

School: Los Alamos Mid

Area of Science: Environmental Sciences


Problem Definition:

Since the issue of global warming has been established as a major concern, there has been much controversy. The rapidly growing population will have an effect on the climate.

CO2 is one of many major pollutants that is a by-product of human activities such as: burning fossil fuels and manufacturing concrete. Smog, another air pollutant that is composed of many different gases, builds up over cities and can harm the respiratory system. In the US, more than 142 million people live in counties that received a failing grade in 2005 from the American Lung Association due to its high smog levels. CO2 is a major cause of global warming,but smog is thought to reduce it. Our goal is to model and simulate pollutant (including smog and CO2) buildup and spread over large cities and regions.

There is a blanket of false truths covering the controversy of global warming, such as false assumptions like: "In one volcano eruption more CO2 is released than all of the human race has emitted in their entire existence. We hope to find all the true factors and incorporate them into an animation and simulation that shows the spread of air pollutants.

Problem Solution:

We will first base our animation on a flat surface with no wind. Then my team will visualize and then simulate the buildup of a single pollutant over this area. We will add factors such as: wind speed, different air pollutants, and topography. We will use the Processing language and publically available data from NASA's Atmospheric Infra-Red Sounder satellite (AIRS). The Processing language, unlike Starlogo TNG, is not agent-based, but it can be. We will use the graphical components of Processing.

It can be downloaded from Like Starlogo TNG it is free and can run on any operating system. Processing helps you visualize large amounts of data. It has many books and lots of website info. For an example, check out the examples at

Progress to Date:

We are both familiar with the of processing/Java languages, and are starting to write our code. We have have determined which important factors are required to successfully visualize our problem.Our team is starting to write the code, and we are mining different data sources. We are also establishing the requirements to make our program run smoothly and realistically.

Expected Results:

We expect to have a test program fully functional by late January, and a full program that includes these factors:

  • Wind speed
  • Different particles
  • Topographical landscape generator

Richter, Burton. Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Climate Change and Energy in the 21st Century. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 2010. Print

Casey Reas and Ben Fry, Processing, MIT Press, 2007. (December 4, 2012) (December 4, 2012)

Team Members:

  Alexander Bullock
  Ryan Swart

Sponsoring Teacher: Pauline Stephens

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