Number formats, error mitigation, and scope for 16‐bit arithmetics in weather and climate modeling analyzed with a shallow water model
Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems American Geophysical Union 12:10 (2020) e2020MS002246
Abstract:The need for high‐precision calculations with 64‐bit or 32‐bit floating‐point arithmetic for weather and climate models is questioned. Lower‐precision numbers can accelerate simulations and are increasingly supported by modern computing hardware. This paper investigates the potential of 16‐bit arithmetic when applied within a shallow water model that serves as a medium complexity weather or climate application. There are several 16‐bit number formats that can potentially be used (IEEE half precision, BFloat16, posits, integer, and fixed‐point). It is evident that a simple change to 16‐bit arithmetic will not be possible for complex weather and climate applications as it will degrade model results by intolerable rounding errors that cause a stalling of model dynamics or model instabilities. However, if the posit number format is used as an alternative to the standard floating‐point numbers, the model degradation can be significantly reduced. Furthermore, mitigation methods, such as rescaling, reordering, and mixed precision, are available to make model simulations resilient against a precision reduction. If mitigation methods are applied, 16‐bit floating‐point arithmetic can be used successfully within the shallow water model. The results show the potential of 16‐bit formats for at least parts of complex weather and climate models where rounding errors would be entirely masked by initial condition, model, or discretization error.
An analysis of ways to decarbonize conference travel after COVID-19
Nature Nature Research 583 (2020) 356-360
Posits as an alternative to floats for weather and climate models
CoNGA'19 Proceedings of the Conference for Next Generation Arithmetic 2019 Association for Computing Machinery (2019)
Abstract:Posit numbers, a recently proposed alternative to floating-point numbers, claim to have smaller arithmetic rounding errors in many applications. By studying weather and climate models of low and medium complexity (the Lorenz system and a shallow water model) we present benefits of posits compared to floats at 16 bit. As a standardised posit processor does not exist yet, we emulate posit arithmetic on a conventional CPU. Using a shallow water model, forecasts based on 16-bit posits with 1 or 2 exponent bits are clearly more accurate than half precision floats. We therefore propose 16 bit with 2 exponent bits as a standard posit format, as its wide dynamic range of 32 orders of magnitude provides a great potential for many weather and climate models. Although the focus is on geophysical fluid simulations, the results are also meaningful and promising for reduced precision posit arithmetic in the wider field of computational fluid dynamics.
Energy budget-based backscatter in a shallow water model of a double gyre basin
OCEAN MODELLING 132 (2018) 1-11
Atlantic meridional overturning circulation and the prediction of North Atlantic sea surface temperature
EARTH AND PLANETARY SCIENCE LETTERS 406 (2014) 1-6