A PHOTO

As sophisticated as today’s climate models are, one critical component continues to hamper their effectiveness: clouds. Those white puffs of water vapor hovering overhead are computationally complex, requiring resources that even today’s most powerful supercomputers are hard-pressed to see through. A massive attempt to resolve the climatic effects of clouds—Project Athena—involved a six-month experimentation period that consumed 70 million CPU-hours and generated more than 900 terabytes of data.

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