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Hurricane Sandy at extremely high resolution Image 5
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Hurricane Sandy at extremely high resolution (Image 5)

April 25, 2014
Potential vorticity on the temperature=322 isosurface, as viewed from the south. In this simulation of Hurricane Sandy, the WRF-ARW (weather prediction software) potential vorticity (PV) on the 322-K isentropic surface of Sandy is shown. Key features include the encirclement of Sandy's inner-core by 322-K polar stratospheric PV, and radial contraction of low-level PV ring concurrent with downward penetration of 322-K PV prior to landfall. The simulation has been colored according to potential vorticity units (PVU). A team of researchers from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) and Cray Inc. simulated the evolution of Hurricane Sandy as it approached and made landfall--with catastrophic impacts--over the Northeastern U.S. The simulation was performed on the Blue Waters Cray supercomputer at NCSA using the NCAR/WRF-ARW regional prediction system. The simulation was comprised of previously unsurpassed ~4 billion computation grid points, with a horizontal grid resolution of 500 meters with 150 vertical levels. The simulation is part of NCAR's research agenda to advance knowledge and predictive skill of high-impact weather hazards and the transition of research to operational services. It illustrates the importance and benefits of advances in supercomputer capacity and visualization systems for Earth systems research and weather prediction. NCAR's VAPOR (Visualization and Analysis Platform for Ocean, Atmosphere and Solar Researchers) system was used to create animations that tracked the storms progress and enabled analysis of flow trajectories and associated dynamical processes during the life cycle of Sandy. VAPOR provides an interactive 3-D visualization environment that runs on most UNIX and Windows systems equipped with modern 3-D graphics cards. [Support for VAPOR is provided by the National Science Foundation (grants CCF 03-25934 and ACI 09-06379) and through a TeraGrid GIG award.] This research was discussed in a presentation by NCAR's Mel Shapiro, titled "A research-community perspective of the life cycle of Hurricane Sandy," that was given at the American Meteorological Society's 2013 Townhall. Technical details of the simulation were described in the Proceedings of SC13: International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis, in the article "Petascale WRF Simulation of Hurricane Sandy: Deployment of NCSA's Cray XE6 Blue Waters." (Date of Image: August 2013) Credit: Alan Norton, Mel Shapiro, Tom Galarneau, Perry Domingo, NCAR; Peter Johnsen, Cray Inc.; Mark Straka, NCSA, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


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