Professor Slobodan Ničković and Luka Ilić from the Institute of Physics Belgrade (IPB) investigate how fine particulate matter contributes to air pollution and reveal that it is one of the most important factors. Epidemiological studies have related increased levels of atmospheric particulate matter to premature human mortality caused by cardiopulmonary disease and lung cancer.


Within the IPB team, these phenomena are analyzed by the in-house-developed gridded dust model – Dust Regional Atmospheric Model (DREAM) for several years now. DREAM provides a climatology of dust based on the long iterative analysis and, besides Serbia, it is used in more than 20 countries, equally in research and operational dust forecasting.

DREAM is originally implemented as a bundle of Fortran codes and libraries. Due to the implementation language constraints, various configuration parameters and data were hardcoded directly into the application. Therefore, the application cannot be executed for different parameters without code modification and recompiling, and thus could not support multiple users or multiple configurations. Each change in the configuration of the physical system implied recompilation and production of new binaries, which were time and disk-space consuming tasks. Recompilation also required deep technical knowledge of the implementation itself, which reduced usability and dissemination of the model.

In collaboration with Petar Jovanović and Dušan Vudragović from IPB’s Center for the Study of Complex Systems and its Scientific Computing Laboratory, the DREAM model was successfully refactored and tuned for usage on high-performance computing infrastructures – the DREAMECLIMATE service was developed and deployed. Configuration of the physical system of interest is separated from the source code of the application, and grouped into a single configuration file. New configuration approach enables more user-friendly way to configure various model setups, without diving into the code and technical details of the implementation. This also enables multiple users to run their model instances independently from each other. Disk-space consumption of the application is significantly reduced, and its usage standardized using an environment-module approach.

The DREAM model is copyright-protected software, but it can be obtained for research purposes with the permission of the principal investigator (Prof. Slobodan Ničković). Therefore, the DREAMECLIMATE service source code is only internally available at the VI-SEEM code repository (https://code.vi-seem.eu/petarj/dreamclimate). Transfer of the software to third parties or its use for commercial purposes is not permitted, unless a written permission from the author is received.

Using the DREAMCLIMATE service at PARADOX cluster, IPB team successfully produced a dataset with aerosol optical thickness and surface dust concentration for the period of one year. The model integration area covers wide North Africa, Southern Europe and Middle East regions in 30 km horizontal resolution with 28 vertical levels. The dataset is registered within the VI-SEEM data repository and made publicly available in December 2016 at: