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Last updated on April 23, 2014 at 20:10 EDT

Goddard Introduces NASA Center For Climate Simulation

June 28, 2010

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. recently introduced the NASA Center for Climate Simulation (NCCS), an integrated set of supercomputing, visualization, and data interaction technologies that will enhance agency capabilities in weather and climate prediction research.

“The NASA Center for Climate Simulation has been designed to meet the unique computational needs of the climate modeling community supported by NASA’s Earth Science Division,” said Phil Webster, chief of Goddard’s Computational and Information Sciences and Technology Office, which manages NCCS.

The new center more than doubles the computing capacity available at Goddard one year ago and expands other services to support NASA’s growing climate data needs. Enhanced NCCS capabilities include:

* The 15,000-processor “Discover” supercomputer with a peak performance of nearly 160 trillion operations per second.

* A 17- by 6-foot multi-screen visualization wall for displaying high-definition movies of simulation results and interactive data visualizations.

* An analysis system offering dedicated software tools for visualization, workflow management, and diagnostics.

* A new data management system for accessing and locating data within NCCS’ multi-petabyte (peta = 1,000 trillion) archive.

* An Earth System Grid node for distributing simulation data from NASA’s contributions to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Approximately $5,449,739 was provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act toward the completion of NCCS.

Goddard is home to one of the largest contingents of Earth scientists in the world. Scientists in the Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO) and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City represent the two largest NCCS user groups. GMAO and GISS simulations investigate weather and climate phenomena at time scales ranging from days to centuries.

“The computing resources at NCCS are critical to our ability to use NASA satellite data in our model-based analyses, which help us characterize and understand Earth’s changing climate,” said Michele Rienecker, GMAO head. “Moreover, NCCS enables us to undertake climate simulations and predictions and to share the results with our fellow scientists and other users.”

Several NCCS-hosted simulations are being displayed on the visualization wall for scientists and visitors:

* GISS climate change projections following surface air temperature, ice cover, and other fields from 1880 to 2100.

* GMAO’s Modern Era Retrospective-analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) project, which recently completed a comprehensive reanalysis of the last 30 years of weather and climate.

* Interactive three-dimensional visualizations of Cyclone Ului’s march through the South Pacific Ocean during March 2010.

* GMAO global model simulations run at resolutions as high as 3.5 kilometers, including a simulation capturing the massive snowstorms that hit the eastern United States in February 2010.

NCCS is part of the NASA High-End Computing Program and serves the agency’s Science Mission Directorate. The center was previously known as the NASA Center for Computational Sciences.

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