CISL Director’s message

CISL Director Al Kellie
CISL Director Al Kellie

Welcome to the FY2015 CISL Annual Report. These highlights include an overview of CISL’s broader impacts on the research community. CISL operates NCAR’s unique supercomputing and data services that are tailored to the atmospheric, geospace, and related science communities including some 200 universities. This year’s report draws attention to the broad scope and high quality of CISL’s work.

CISL conducted the NWSC-2 supercomputing procurement for a multi-petaflops supercomputer to replace the Yellowstone system at the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC). During this process, CISL worked with scientific, business, and technical experts from across NCAR and UCAR to determine the best value from among the various offerings to enhance scientific productivity for the next four years. The NWSC-2 system will be put into production by January 2017.

CISL again stepped up to NCAR leadership activities by co-leading the NCAR-wide Data Stewardship and Engineering Team (DSET), whose goal is to define cross-NCAR data management engineering practices that lead to a better integration of NCAR’s data services. In addition, along with participation of scientists from across NCAR, CISL also co-led the creation of an NCAR Data Assimilation Initiative that defined a coordinated DA path forward, building on the software framework provided by the Data Assimilation Research Testbed (DART).

Significant progress was made in speeding up scientific workflows as well as data analysis and visualization software. The fall 2015 release of The Community Earth System Model (CESM) will for the first time include pyAverager and pyReshaper as climate data workflow tools. FY2015 saw one major and one minor release of the NCAR Command Language (NCL) graphics software continuing the theme of Python integration. Over 2,000 copies have been downloaded of the new Version 2.4 of the Visualization and Analysis Platform for Ocean, Atmosphere, and Solar Researchers (VAPOR) 3D visualization software package that features support for GRIB data and global circulation model outputs from the Community Atmosphere Model (CAM).

The Application Scalability and Performance Group’s (ASAP) acceleration efforts are producing significant results in refactoring NCAR applications for performance on future architectures. The Strategic Program to Optimize Computing (SPOC) is also helping to lead the way in more efficiently exploiting Yellowstone. ASAP optimized routines in CAM for a 1.5-2.0x speedup, which is an important improvement because CAM represents 70% of the CESM execution time. Other compiler optimizations by SPOC resulted in a 15%-20% improvement in the execution of dynamics in the Model Prediction Across Scales (MPAS) model.

The 2015 class of the Summer Internships in Parallel Computational Science (SIParCS) program was the second largest in its nine-year history, with 17 students participating. It was also the most diverse, with three interns from Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), five female interns, and eight interns from seven different EPSCoR states.

In 2015, CISL’s Institute for Mathematics Applied to Geosciences (IMAGe) produced five conferences designed to help Earth science researchers cope with the ever-increasing challenges of Big Data. In May, the Summer School in Data Assimilation organized by IMAGe and the Statistical Methods for Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (STATMOS) brought together graduate students, early-career scientists, and senior scientists in environmental statistics and related fields to explore topics in applied environmental data modeling. In June, IMAGe presented a week-long Data Analytics Bootcamp for High School Students, an opportunity for 10 Boulder high school sophomores and juniors to learn about being a data scientist. IMAGe presented three more conferences in July, August, and September to continue developing researchers’ skills in Environmental Data Analytics, Ensemble Data Assimilation, and Climate Data Informatics. These conferences support the research communities’ need for help in coping with the Big Data challenges of today’s research environment.

As you read this FY2015 CISL Annual Report, I hope you can appreciate the importance of the progress we are making and how proud I am of the work being accomplished by our staff.