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Message from CISL Director Al Kellie

Al Kellie with one of the 65% design documents for the NWSC.Welcome to CISL's FY2009 Annual Report. This report organizes our accomplishments and plans according to our strategic plan that was issued in March 2009. For reference, Computational and Information Systems Laboratory Strategic Plan: Service, Science, and Education, 2009-2014 is published on the CISL website.

Using high performance computing and information technology for simulation and prediction, data analysis, and visualization is an essential component of 21st century Earth System science research. To support NCAR's discipline-specific mission, CISL marshals and adapts the facilities, equipment, software, numerical methods, and intellectual resources necessary to support the ever-expanding scientific goals of the research community and its complex, ever-changing workflows. CISL continually prepares for the future by tracking and testing new technologies, developing algorithms and tools, and providing educational opportunities that serve the growing needs of our community and cultivate the future workforce in applied HPC.

CISL's identity is rooted in three essential roles: CISL functions as a computing laboratory that provides end-to-end services, a science laboratory that conducts research, and an education laboratory that trains and mentors. Each aspect is essential to CISL's effective operation: no single role can survive in isolation. Therefore CISL structured its strategic plan and this annual report according to these three roles, describing the Imperatives and Frontiers for each. Our organizational Fabrics – aspects of our workplace environment and philosophy that contribute to institutional achievement and excellence – are presented in a fourth section. The fifth and final section of this annual report is the research catalog that highlights selected research performed by individual CISL scientists in the past year. Throughout all our planning, we align our work with NSF strategic priorities as articulated by the NSF Strategic Plan and its Cyberinfrastructure (CI) Vision for the 21st Century.

CISL is a computing laboratory

CISL provides world-class supercomputing and data services to its user community. The configuration of these services is dynamic: scientific demands and underlying technologies require continual monitoring, refinement, and evolution. For example, CISL foresees providing fewer standalone services in the future. Over time, services will increasingly be virtualized and federated with other resource and service providers. Another macro-trend will be to provide more flexible and customized services such as through sophisticated science gateways tied to data repositories or computational resources, rather than the current paradigm of "batch" access.

I invite you to read about our accomplishments and plans as a computing laboratory in the Computing Services section of this annual report.

CISL is an interdisciplinary science laboratory

To support sustained progress in using simulation to advance science, CISL develops and tests new techniques to exploit emerging technology trends that will support new scientific goals. Because of its unique juxtaposition of computer science, applied mathematics, statistics, and geosciences domain expertise, CISL is strongly positioned to function as a leading interdisciplinary computational science laboratory that advances Earth System science simulation.

The CISL Science and Research Catalog sections of this report highlight our progress and plans as an interdisciplinary science laboratory.

CISL is an education laboratory

CISL teaches the mathematical and computational science concepts and the practical skills needed to make effective use of advanced cyberinfrastructure. Furthermore, CISL's mission of supporting 21st-century computational Earth System science research can succeed only if CISL and NCAR replenish themselves with a diverse and talented staff. Therefore CISL must encourage students to embark on careers in supercomputing and the computational sciences as applied to atmospheric science.

Please review our FY2009 educational advances in the CISL Education section.

CISL's Fabrics

CISL defines Fabrics as shared values that become daily habits so ingrained that they guide our actions and bind us together as an organization. CISL has identified these Fabrics as the most crosscutting, key contributors to our success as a laboratory:

  • Service to support NCAR's science mission
  • Innovation to facilitate scientific and technical progress
  • Leadership to recognize critical future challenges and take timely action
  • Collaboration to fill gaps in resident expertise, infuse new ideas, and amplify impact
  • Mentorship to improve communication and leadership skills, develop and retain talent, preserve organizational knowledge, and facilitate the professional growth of everyone involved
  • Diversity to improve the breadth of perspectives, approaches, and experience in solving problems

CISL strives to measure and inculcate these Fabrics throughout the organization, and an overview of this work appears in the Fabrics section of this report.

Looking ahead

Our plans for the future are organized by our three paths into the era of petascale science: facilities and infrastructure, science and research, and education of the future workforce. Our ongoing ambition is to provide a balanced computing environment that supports our traditional science community while sharing our resources via distributed facilities and new partnerships. CISL provides levels of support for Earth System science that are without peer anywhere in the country.

As we look to the future, we continually adapt ourselves and our organization to maximize our contribution to understanding the complexities of the Earth System. As you read this report, I hope you share our sense of expectation for significant progress in the future.

Please review our accomplishments and plans in this FY2009 CISL Annual Report.