National Center for Atmospheric Research Introduces New Supercomputer for Geoscience Researchers

By CIOReview | Tuesday, January 12, 2016
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FREMONT, CA: Cheyenne, the new supercomputer for advancing atmospheric and Earth science enables scientists to improve disaster predictions and strengthen society’s resilience. The new system has been selected by National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and will be installed at the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC).

The system will be built by Silicon Graphics International Corp. (SGI). It is connected with the components of centralized file system and data storage provided by DataDirect Networks (DDN). Cheyenne will be a critical tool for researchers across the country studying important geoscience topics climate change, severe weather, geomagnetic storms, seismic activity, air quality, wildfires, and other. It will be capable of more than 2.5 times the amount of scientific computing performed by Yellowstone, its

How Cheyenne will assist the scientists of Atmospheric and Earth science?

Cheyenne enables researchers to run detailed models to simulate complex processes for making predictions that provide resource managers and policy experts valuable information for planning ahead and mitigating risk.  With regard to streamflow and associated reservoir levels predictions, the system will provide water managers, farmers and other decision makers with vital information about likely water availability and the potential for drought or flood impacts.

The new supercomputer’s   capability to conduct multiple simultaneous runs of high-resolution forecast models enables scientists to make more specific predictions of severe weather events such as the probability that a cluster of intense thunderstorms with the risk of hail or flooding will strike a county at a particular hour. Extending its capability further, the ensembles of detailed climate models will also help scientists in predicting the likelihood of certain climate patterns over a 10-year period.

Going ahead, scientists will be able to simulate the movement and evolution of air pollutants in far more detail for better understanding the potential health effects of particular types of emissions and work towards improving forecasts of air quality. Providing accurate and detailed models, the Cheyenne will enable researchers to better simulate the subsurface flows of water, oil and gas that will help the world to better explore and understand these resources.

The supercomputer’s three-dimensional models of the Sun will help in predicting the timing and strength of the Sun’s 11-year cycle as well as assist in making future forecasts of solar disturbances that can generate geomagnetic storms in Earth’s upper atmosphere.

Integrated with NCAR’s existing GLADE file system, Cheyenne’s new data storage system will have an initial capacity of 20 petabytes which is expandable to 40 petabytes with the addition of extra drives. The new DDN system also will transfer data at the rate of 200 gigabytes per second. The new ssupercomputer will incorporate Intel Xeon processors.

“Researchers at the University of Wyoming will make great use of the new system as they continue their work into better understanding such areas as the surface and subsurface flows of water and other liquids, cloud processes, and the design of wind energy plants. UW’s relationship with NCAR through the NWSC has greatly strengthened our scientific computing and data-centric research. It’s helping us introduce the next generation of scientists and engineers to these endeavors,” says William Gern, vice president of research and economic development, University of Wyoming.