CISL Director's Message

Message from CISL Director Al Kellie

CISL Director Al Kellie
CISL Director Al Kellie

Welcome to the FY2011 CISL Annual Report.

In addition to describing CISL’s three strategic functions of providing service, science, and education, this year's report includes a new overview of our broader impacts on the research community. Many CISL activities are designed to broaden the laboratory’s impact through outreach, collaboration, and community engagement, and through capacity building at regional, national, and international scales. CISL’s outreach provides training and education opportunities aimed at broadening participation and helping develop the diverse workforce necessary to make effective use of high performance computing (HPC) resources. CISL also collaborates and exchanges information and expertise for developing shared cyberinfrastructure and standards that will advance HPC for both the geosciences and the HPC community.

CISL’s most significant highlight this year is completing the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC) and awarding the contract to provision it. Six years of planning and one year of construction have produced a highly efficient modern facility ready to house a petascale system that will provide large increments in simulation capability and capacity for atmospheric research and our Wyoming partners. Much remains to be done in the next half year before production computing begins, but the speed and thoroughness of our FY2011 effort to bring NWSC into reality have been remarkable. When operations start in mid-FY2012, NWSC will be a data-centric computational facility balanced for both data generation and data analysis, imperatives for scientific progress. We expect NWSC to underwrite new science discoveries for decades.

CISL’s Technology Development Division and our math institute IMAGe have been making significant progress in scaling applications and introducing dynamical cores capable of scaling to over 100,000 processors. Unheard of for climate applications, this work has arguably helped produce the most scalable climate model available to today’s scientists. For the recently completed assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the data assimilation algorithms developed in CISL made it possible for CESM to use reanalysis data from DART/CAM4 that significantly improves the initial conditions used in ensemble decadal predictions.

Fundamental workflow improvements arose from CISL’s centralized high-performance file systems that efficiently manage massive data flows. The success of this new architecture for Mesa Lab systems guided the design and procurement of equipment to be installed at NWSC. Further, CISL’s ongoing development of science gateways provides additional benefits to modelers by simplifying the use of increasing data volumes through intuitive web-based user interfaces and automated workflows for experiments. Tied to major interagency, national, and international initiatives, CISL’s science gateway framework (SGF) supports climate science, regional climate change, Arctic science, solar science, digital preservation, and international efforts to develop metadata and knowledge infrastructure. The SGF serves as a foundation for the Earth System Grid (ESG) and many other national and international science efforts including the WCRP Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP), the IPCC’s most recent assessment report, and the Community Earth System Model (CESM). CISL integrates all of these resources and applies them to the processes of scientific discovery.

As a supercomputing laboratory at a national research center, CISL is in a unique position to integrate education into research spanning many scientific disciplines. CISL’s educational efforts complement and supplement programs at universities and other centers. CISL’s Summer Internships in Parallel Computational Science (SIParCS) program provides interns with meaningful hands-on research opportunities in computational science, applied mathematics, and geostatistics to develop a workforce that can exploit the scientific potential of petascale computers. CISL’s Research and Supercomputing Visitor Program (RSVP) allows prolonged engagement and collaboration between our staff, the university community, and researchers at peer centers around the world. IMAGe’s Theme-of-the-Year (TOY) is a series of yearlong programs, each focused on a specific aspect of mathematics applied to the geosciences to stimulate education, research, and collaboration between the mathematical and geosciences communities. CISL also prepares for the coming petascale computing era by training young researchers to use high-performance cyberinfrastructure. CISL delivers this educational content through workshops, training classes, and via the web. By design, all of our education, outreach, and training efforts also broaden early-career researchers’ opportunities to participate in Earth System science.

We will continue to provide balanced, easy-to-use computational and data environments that will support our traditional science community while sharing our resources via distributed facilities and new partnerships. 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. This is how CISL renews its vigor and skill in supporting Earth System science. As you read this report, I hope you share our sense of expectation and excitement that with the advent of NWSC, CISL is “Back in the Game!”

With this in mind, it is my pleasure to invite you to review our accomplishments in this FY2011 CISL Annual Report.

2011 CISL Annual Report