The Chinese Academy of Sciences launched one of its most advanced scientific cloud platforms on Thursday, to provide scientists with accessible, accurate and secure data services to drive research and innovation, officials and scientists said.
The China Science and Technology Cloud, or CSTC, draws data from the academy's research institutes and major scientific installations, as well as many of China's top universities and private innovation centers.
"Big data, cloud computing and artificial intelligence are now the three chariots driving cutting edge information technology worldwide," said Wang Shuzhi, deputy director of the academy's general office.
The CSTC combines all three fields into a single, massive platform that "will provide strong data and cloud computing services to help China become a technological powerhouse," he said.
It was created at the academy's Computer Network Information Center.
Applications are divided into five broad categories: data resources, cloud computing with AI and supercomputers, research software support, research community networks and outreach to foreign scientists and platforms.
"The CSTC aims to become the go-to platform to satisfy most data and cloud service needs from scientists and innovators in China," said Liao Fangyu, director of the information center.
"We have entered an age in which scientific discoveries often require crunching a large amount of data. This is only possible with powerful computing hardware and software," Liao said. "The CSTC will bolster China's innovation capabilities and help create more original and influential scientific achievements."
Li Jun, a researcher at the center and one of the key computer engineers behind the cloud service, said the platform already has more than 600,000 registered users and will continue to improve to satisfy ever-growing research needs.
"The platform is the cornerstone of the academy's effort to improve its data-related services and applications," he said. "It also promotes data sharing and transparency, so the next generation of young scientists can use our data to help their research."
Zhou Guangqing, a researcher at the academy's Institute of Atmospheric Physics, said the cloud platform allowed faster and more accurate climate simulations, thanks to its wealth of data and muscular processing powers.
"Data about Earth's climate is so massive and complicated that scientists typically rely on math models to glimpse into complex physical or chemical phenomena, which can lead to a large margin of error," Zhou said.
Using the platform, scientists can simulate climate change on a larger scale or across a greater period of time. It also allows researchers to add data from other science fields－marine science or the carbon cycle, for example－into the simulation to create "a more accurate and comprehensive big picture", Zhou said.
"The platform will play a major role in improving our weather research and disaster predictions, which will be invaluable to society," he said.