Our paper on defect density analysis of climate models is now out for review at the journal Geoscientific Model Development (GMD). GMD is an open review / open access journal, which means the review process is publicly available (anyone can see the submitted paper, the reviews it receives during the process, and the authors’ response). If the paper is eventually accepted, the final version will also be freely available.

The way this works at GMD is that the paper is first published to Geoscientific Model Development Discussions (GMDD) as an un-reviewed manuscript. The interactive discussion is then open for a fixed period (in this case, 2 months). At that point the editors will make a final accept/reject decision, and, if accepted, the paper is then published to GMD itself. During the interactive discussion period, anyone can post comments on the paper, although in practice, discussion papers often only get comments from the expert reviewers commissioned by the editors.

One of the things I enjoy about the peer-review process is that a good, careful review can help improve the final paper immensely. As I’ve never submitted before to a journal that uses an open review process, I’m curious to see how the open reviewing will help – I suspect (and hope!) it will tend to make reviewers more constructive.

Anyway, here’s the paper. As it’s open review, anyone can read it and make comments (click the title to get to the review site):

Assessing climate model software quality: a defect density analysis of three models

J. Pipitone and S. Easterbrook
Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto, Canada

Abstract. A climate model is an executable theory of the climate; the model encapsulates climatological theories in software so that they can be simulated and their implications investigated. Thus, in order to trust a climate model one must trust that the software it is built from is built correctly. Our study explores the nature of software quality in the context of climate modelling. We performed an analysis of defect reports and defect fixes in several versions of leading global climate models by collecting defect data from bug tracking systems and version control repository comments. We found that the climate models all have very low defect densities compared to well-known, similarly sized open-source projects. We discuss the implications of our findings for the assessment of climate model software trustworthiness.

I was talking to the folks at our campus sustainability office recently, and they were extolling the virtues of Green Revolving Funds. The idea is ridiculously simple, but turns out to be an important weapon in making sure that the savings from  energy efficiency don’t just disappear back into the black hole of University operational budgets. Once the fund is set up, it provides money for the capital costs of energy efficiency projects, so that they don’t have to compete with other kinds of projects for scarce capital. The money saved from reduced utility bills is then ploughed back into the fund to support more such projects. And the beauty of the arrangement is that you don’t then have to go through endless bureaucracy to get new projects going. According to wikipedia, this arrangement is increasingly common across university campuses in the US and Canada.

So I’m delighted to see the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is proposing a revolving fund for this too. Here’s the motion to be put to the TDSB’s Operations and Facilities Management Committee next week. Note the numbers in there about savings already realised:

Motion – Environmental Legacy Fund

Whereas in February 2010, the Board approved the Go Green: Climate Change Action Plan that includes the establishment of an Environmental Advisory Committee and the Environmental Legacy Fund;

Whereas the current balance of the Environmental Legacy Fund includes revenues from the sale of carbon credits accrued through energy efficiency projects and from Feed-in-Tariff payments accruing from nine Ministry-funded solar electricity projects;

Whereas energy efficiency retrofit projects completed since 1990/91 have resulted in an estimated 33.9% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to date and lowered the TDSB’s annual operating costs significantly, saving the Board a $22.43 million in 2010/11 alone; and

Whereas significant energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities remain available to the TDSB which can provide robust annual operational savings, new revenue streams as well as other benefits including increasing the comfort and health of the Board’s learning spaces;

Therefore, the Environmental Advisory Committee recommends that:

  1. The Environmental Legacy Fund be utilized in a manner that advances projects that directly and indirectly reduce the Board’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and lower the TDSB’s long-term operating costs;
  2. The Environmental Legacy Fund be structured and operated as a revolving fund;
  3. The Environmental Legacy Fund be replenished and  augmented from energy cost savings achieved, incentives and grant revenues secured for energy retrofit projects and renewable energy projects, and an appropriate level of renewable energy revenue as determined by the Board.,
  4. The TDSB establish criteria for how and how much of the Environmental Legacy Fund can be used to advance environmental initiatives that have demonstrated GHG reduction benefits but may not provide a short-term financial return and opportunity for replenishing the Fund.
  5. To ensure transparency and document success, the Board issue an annual financial statement, on the Environmental Legacy Fund along with a report on the energy and GHG savings attributable to projects financed by the Fund.

The 12th Annual Weblog (Bloggies) awards shortlists are out. This year, they have merged the old categories of “Best Science weblog” and “Best Computer or Technology Weblog” into a single category, “Best Science or Technology Weblog“. And the five candidates on the shortlist? Four technology blogs and one rabid anti-science blog.

Not that this award ever had any track record for being able to distinguish science from pseudo-science; the award is legendary for vote-stuffing. But this year it has really stooped to new depths.