The entire month of May 2022, Alkuin (ESR1) and Charikleia (ESR 15) visited Koketso (ESR14) and David (ESR13) at Hereon for a hands-on tutorial with Dr. Johannes Bieser on the new and exciting ICON model. ICON-atmosphere is now the operational numerical weather prediction model used by the German weather service and differs fundamentally from other models in how the world is gridded: Not rectangles, but triangles! This, among others, gives the model unique properties and makes it run very efficiently on a supercomputer. An efficient model has many advantages, as it allows to include ever more complicated processes, test more scenarios, and perform calculations for longer time periods. Although some development is still needed before it can be applied as a mercury model, ICON-atmosphere combined with its “partner models” ICON-ocean and ICON-land shows a lot of promise for the mercury community.

Following Dr. Biesers’ motto on “no to esoteric programming” (which basically means to achieve a profound understanding of how a program works instead of only being able to use it), the secondment was a healthy combination of “playing around with the model” and diving deep into the ICON code.  Not always easy, as ICON is written in the obscure and dreaded (slight exaggeration) Fortran 2003 object-oriented language, which can run very fast but forces you to think around many corners. Progress was made nevertheless, and among the preliminary results of this secondment was the simulation of global mercury transport shown in our latest GMOS-train video!

This sounds like a lot of work, but there was still enough time for socializing. Hamburg is a beautiful and vibrant city, and under the “supervision” of Koketso, Alkuin and Charikleia got an opportunity to experience some of the best of Hamburg, including a visit to the Elbphilharmonie and a “Döner-dinner” in the iconic Schanzenviertel.

By Alkuin Koenig (ESR1) and Koketso Molepo (ESR14)