China has launched a $200 million Earth simulation laboratory to help predict weather and climate trends and patterns.

The U.S., Japan and some European countries already have virtual Earth laboratories. The China lab should give the country more credibility at international climate negotiations.

The laboratory can simulate environmental, ecological, Earth and space weather systems. China can now better prevent and mitigate natural disasters.

EarthLab was built at Beijing's Huairou Science City. It was developed in partnership with Tsinghua University's Institute of Atmospheric Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The government and the university began work in 2018. EarthLab is expected to be fully operational and open to research facilities and universities early next year.

"EarthLab is the first comprehensive virtual Earth laboratory in China for the simulation of the physical climate system, environmental system, ecological system, solid earth system, and space weather system as a whole with a high-performance scientific computing platform," the team behind the lab said.

Zhang He, an EarthLab research fellow and one of the paper's authors, said the facility should meet the overall requirement of the scientific research community in China and overseas.

"Along with other Earth simulators around the world, the development and construction of EarthLab will advance not only the understanding of the Earth's spheres and their interactions, and Earth's past, present and future, but also the progress of computational mathematics, high-performance computing and technology, and other broader fields," Zhang said.

Zeng Qingcun, an academician of the CAS, said the facility would help address the "over-dominance" of other countries in global climate diplomatic negotiations. He said China needed its own data as a basis for environmental negotiations and not rely on that from other countries.

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