Director's Message

Message from CISL Director Al Kellie

Al Kellie, CISL Director
Al Kellie described the promise of the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center at the ground breaking ceremony on June 15, 2010: “CISL is enjoying the moment of this first step along the way, but we won’t really be celebrating until we are serving the community by facilitating their science production from this new building in Wyoming.”

Welcome to the FY2010 CISL Annual Report. We have documented a generous collection of highlights this year. I particularly want to call your attention to their balance with respect to CISL’s three fundamental roles of service, science, and education.

Perhaps the most important CISL activity highlighted this year, one with far-reaching implications, is the construction of the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC). It is indeed gratifying to see this dream becoming a real image after six years of planning. Much work remains to be done: 60 weeks of construction activity, stocking the facility with infrastructure for supercomputing, storage, and networking; integrating and testing new systems; cultivating new research collaborations; expanding educational opportunities; allocating resources; and transitioning to operations at the Wyoming Campus.

NWSC will enable a significant increase in the scale of our computing and data infrastructure. In anticipation of this expansion, we are broadening our expertise by acquiring new computing and data management technologies and designing new systems. For instance, we are developing new and more efficient ways to manage data used in scientific workflows for the atmospheric and related sciences. To this end, we designed and launched the Globally Accessible Data Environment (GLADE), a new network-attached, centralized data management system to reduce unnecessary file copying, increase the efficiency of data analysis tasks, and speed up the rate of science production. We also rapidly expanded NCAR’s online data capacity for both the Research Data Archive and NCAR’s Earth System Grid in support of the IPCC AR5 campaign. These efforts are detailed in the GLADE and RDA sections of our annual report as well as in NCAR’s Annual Report.

We also installed a test and development 8-TFLOPS Cray XT5 system at the Mesa Lab site, and we assisted in the design and deployment of a 183.9-TFLOPS Dell PowerEdge system at a partner university. Through these activities we have gained valuable experience exploring ways to configure and operate cyberinfrastructure relevant to NWSC. This knowledge will now be applied directly to our acquisition and deployment of the petascale cyberinfrastructure we plan for the NWSC facility.

New algorithms are needed for the massively parallel systems required to achieve petascale and ultimately exascale computing. CISL’s Technology Development Division and IMAGe math institute have been making significant progress in this realm for years, and we achieved several major milestones in FY2010. In particular, the highly scalable HOMME dynamical core is now included in the latest production version of the Community Climate System Model (CCSM) and the Community Earth System Model (CESM). Other advancements in CISL science include progress in data assimilation for climate modules, developing ultra-high-resolution climate modeling capabilities, applying graphics hardware acceleration to climate applications, and using adaptive grids for multiscale simulation of the atmosphere and oceans. We are also preparing to handle exascale datasets by developing techniques such as high-fidelity data compression, defining methods for handling climate simulation metadata, and implementing new user interfaces.

CISL began hosting new scientific capabilities in FY2010 by incorporating the Regional Integrated Science Collective (RISC) in CISL’s Institute for Mathematics Applied to Geosciences (IMAGe). RISC brings CISL into the societal impacts realm, and adds a new service to our portfolio: providing decision makers with tools, methods, and unique data sets for analyzing climate change impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation options. RISC reaches out to the broader decision-making and policy communities by integrating geostatistics and mathematical analyses into more immediate and pragmatic products. CISL leverages all of its scientific efforts through far-reaching collaborations with public and private laboratories, universities, and other institutions.

CISL’s education accomplishments this year have been equally significant. Both of our flagship education programs enjoyed record support and participation. IMAGe’s Theme of the Year program hosted five meetings, culminating in the two-week summer school that trained 42 U.S. graduate students in applying mathematics to climate change. In SIParCS, a record number of 20 interns was made possible by funding from three partner organizations, grants, and NCAR diversity funds. This external support shows the strength of these programs that aim to develop skilled scientists and engineers for the future. In data analysis training over the last 10 years, we provided 49 four-day workshops to 683 students, and in FY2010 these NCL workshops began supporting participants from Minority Serving Institutions and EPSCoR states. All of our educational programs promote careers in science and engineering while reaching out to our historically underserved neighbors. We continue to expand our education, outreach, and training efforts to broaden participation in the Earth System science workforce.

Our plans for the future are organized by three pathways to petascale science: 1) facilities and infrastructure, 2) scientific tools and and research that are tightly integrated with other NCAR programs at the crossroads of petascale applications and massively parallel computing, and 3) critical and innovative workforce education and training. We will continue to provide balanced and greatly expanded computing and data environments that will support our traditional science community while sharing our resources via distributed facilities and new partnerships. Thus, CISL will support the Earth System sciences with increasing vigor and skill. 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 and excitement for the significant progress coming in the future.

With this in mind, it is my pleasure to invite you to review our accomplishments and plans in this FY2010 CISL Annual Report.