A supercomputer in coal country is analyzing climate change

Meet the fastest computer in the Rockies.

Carlye Calvin

In Wyoming, where the state produces about 40 percent of America's coal, a new supercomputer named Cheyenne has just come online to join in the fight against climate change. According to the Associated Press, the $30 million Cheyenne is 20th fastest in the world and is currently working on several projects, including some that will help it predict weather patterns "months to years in advance."

By building better weather prediction models, Cheyenne will eventually be able to better predict climate change as well. "We believe that doing better predictions of those things have apolitical benefits," Rich Loft, a specialist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research said, "saving lives and saving money, and improving outcomes for businesses and farmers."

Cheyenne is located in the Wyoming town of the same name and as the AP notes, it already has the support of some coal industry insiders and climate change skeptics -- despite the fact that a downturn in the coal industry has hurt state budgets. Governor Matt Mead, for example, is currently suing to block carbon emission regulations put in place during the Obama administration, but supports the Cheyenne project for jumpstarting the state's tech industry. While The NCAR plans to keep plugging away at its current projects despite the current political climate, there's a fear that projects like Cheyenne won't be possible in the future. Most of the supercomputer's cost came from the National Science Foundation, which is in danger of losing funding under President Trump, or at least shifting its focus away from environmental and earth sciences.