Clear Climate Code: Rewriting Legacy Science Software for Clarity
By Mike Jackson.
During my work with the MAUS project, Chris Tunnell pointed me at a recent article in IEEE Software by Nicholas Barnes and David Jones on "Clear Climate Code: Rewriting Legacy Science Software for Clarity". The article describes the authors' experiences in completely rewriting an important climate code called GISTEMP.
GISTEMP produces global surface temperature datasets and was subject to criticism, because it was not publicly available and, when it was made available, because it had obvious bugs and could not be run. The authors' decided to completely rewrite GISTEMP to deliver a version that could be accessed, downloaded, inspected and run by any interested party. To this end, they set up the Clear Climate Code project on Google Code to produce and encourage the production of clear climate science software and contribute to increasing public confidence in the results.
The Clear Climate Code paper gives a concise and highly-readable account of the challenges faced by the authors during the refactoring of their code, and describes the research that has been mad possible by the new version of GISTEMP. I'd recommend it to anyone who is interested in scientific software development, or anyone who wants to know why scientific software should be accessible, clear, maintainable and portable (on that note, it is, perhaps unfortunate, that you may not be able to actually read the article unless your institution has access to IEEE papers online, but that's a subject for another blog article).
Posted by MikeJackson on Tuesday 15 May 2012.