27 Jun 2017 Laramie - Seven projects, many of which have applications to Wyoming issues - including identification of promising catalysts for carbon fuel and chemical production, cloud seeding to enhance precipitation and a study of the Blair-Wallis watershed - were recently chosen to receive computational time and storage space on the supercomputer in Cheyenne.
University of Wyoming (UW) faculty members will head projects that will use the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC). Each project was critically reviewed by an external panel of experts and evaluated on experimental design, computational effectiveness, efficiency of resource use and broader impacts such as how the project involves both UW and National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) researchers; strengthens UW's research capacity; enhances UW's computational programmes; or involves research in a new or emerging field.
"The Wyoming-NCAR Allocation Panel recently met to evaluate the large allocation requests for the use of computational resources at the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center", stated Bryan Shader, UW's special assistant to the vice president for research and economic development, and a UW professor of mathematics. "The projects were granted allocations totaling 65 million core hours. In addition, 6 million core hours were recently awarded to a new faculty member as part of his startup package."
"These projects represent new explorations that could not be undertaken without the capabilities of Cheyenne, the recently installed supercomputer at the NWSC", Bryan Shader stated. "Improved computer technology is enabling the study of more complicated or nuanced phenomena."
Over the last year, 23 UW projects used the NWSC. This includes four new projects that were allocated a total of 72 million core hours starting in January 2016. These allocations and use rank UW as first in total allocation and total users; first in total computer charges; and first in active projects among the more than 100 North American universities using the NWSC.
Since the NWSC's opening in October 2012, allocations have been made to 53 UW research projects, including these latest seven.
A brief description of each of the projects, which begin July 1, is provided as follows:
UW faculty members working on the project include: Urszula Norton, a UW associate professor of agroecology in the Department of Plant Sciences; Khaled Gasem, a professor of petroleum engineering; Hertanto Adidharma, an associate professor of petroleum engineering; and Gang Tan, an associate professor from the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering. The research team also includes collaborators from Jackson State University, the University of Mississippi and the University of Delaware.
Glaciogenic seeding of clouds - that is, infusing clouds with chilled air or ice nuclei to encourage formation of ice particles - is one technology that various Western communities have considered to glean additional water sources. Despite many studies of glaciogenic seeding, there are many important questions that remain unanswered. This project seeks to resolve some of these questions.
The project, called SNOWIE - Seeded and Natural Orographic Wintertime Clouds: the Idaho Experiment, is a collaborative research programme aimed at addressing long-standing questions related to the initiation and growth of precipitation in orographic clouds. The project will apply new and advanced instrumentation, improved understanding of cloud dynamical and microphysical processes, and numerical modelling capabilities to evaluate the potential for orographic precipitation enhancement in ways not possible in decades past.
Besides Jeff French, UW researchers involved in the project are Bart Geerts, a UW professor of atmospheric science, and Wei Wu, a postdoctoral student. The project also includes collaborators from the University of Illinois and NCAR.
Tom Parish, a UW professor of atmospheric science and head of the department, along with faculty from the University of Kansas, will collaborate on this NSF-funded project.
This watershed is part of the Earth's critical zone, which is the portion of the Earth that extends from the deepest reach of groundwater to the top of the vegetation. This zone sustains the majority of life on the Earth and, yet, fundamental questions - such as "What are the essential physical, chemical, hydrological and biological processes that control the formation and evolution of the critical zone?" - are still unanswered. The project will provide the data to enable researchers to make reliable inferences regarding how the critical zone evolves under climate, tectonic and anthropogenic events.
The most recent recommended allocations total 65 million core hours, 147 terabytes of storage space, 75 terabytes of archival storage, and 33,000 hours on data analysis and visualization systems, Bryan Shader said.
To provide some perspective on what these numbers mean, Cheyenne can be thought of as 145,152 personal computers that are cleverly interconnected to perform as one computer. The computational time allocated is equivalent to the use of the entire supercomputer for 21 days, 24 hours a day. The 147 terabytes of storage would be enough to store the entire printed collection of the U.S. Library of Congress more than 20 times. Cheyenne consists of about 145,152 processors, also known as cores. An allocation of one core hour allows a project to run one of these processors for one hour, or 1,000 of these for 1/1,000th of an hour.
The supercomputer Cheyenne began operation in March. Its capability to perform 5.34 quadrillion calculations per second places it as the 20th most capable supercomputer in the world. It is more than 2.5 times more capable than its predecessor, Yellowstone.
The NWSC is the result of a partnership among the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, the operating entity for NCAR; UW; the state of Wyoming; Cheyenne LEADS; the Wyoming Business Council; and Black Hills Energy. The NWSC is operated by NCAR under sponsorship of the NSF.
The NWSC contains one of the world's most powerful supercomputers dedicated to improving scientific understanding of climate change, severe weather, air quality and other vital atmospheric science and geoscience topics. The centre also houses a premier data storage and archival facility that holds historical climate records and other information.