User community overview

Allocations to universities
CISL allocations to university researchers have supported the scientific objectives of more than 150 different NSF awards each year for the past decade. In FY2015, active projects supported more than 300 unique NSF awards.

CISL’s success in supporting scientific goals and enabling scientific impact depends in equal measure on understanding the needs and research objectives of its several user communities, and on integrating CISL’s resources, capabilities, and services in response to those needs. In FY2015, these user communities included more than 1,600 users at more than 240 universities and other institutions who benefited from using CISL’s high-performance cyberinfrastructure (CI) and services. In FY2015, nearly 500 new users joined the CISL computing community.

A discipline-specific approach to supercomputing allows CISL to tailor system design and services for our user community and to satisfy the highly specialized technical requirements of scientific applications such as climate system models. More than 70% of CISL’s HPC system use is related to running NCAR-developed climate and weather applications, and this well-defined workload allows CISL and NCAR scientists to optimize the most heavily used models and applications on current and future systems. It also ensures that model development and research in Earth System processes can occur in a controlled yet responsive environment where researchers can prepare complex models and perform the computationally demanding tests required to validate them.

The size, breadth, and disciplinary pursuits of the CISL user communities offer perspectives on the scientific impact enabled by CISL’s HPC, data analysis, and archival resources. These user communities reported more than 320 publications and 57 dissertations and theses resulting from CISL HPC support in FY2014 (the timeframe of our most recent survey). Scientifically, our user communities span 17 areas of interest in the atmospheric and related sciences.

Allocation categories
The FY2015 usage of Yellowstone by CISL’s major user communities showed strong increases by both the University and Wyoming communities, bringing the actual usage very close to the targets for each area.

CISL works to provide equitable and efficient access to several distinct communities of researchers in the atmospheric and related sciences, including the broad university community, Climate Simulation Laboratory (CSL) users, NCAR researchers, and University of Wyoming researchers through the Wyoming-NCAR Alliance. In FY2015, CISL continued to manage several allocation processes to distribute resources and ensure access by the most meritorious projects.

Approximately 29% of Yellowstone is available to U.S.-based University researchers with NSF awards in the atmospheric or related sciences. University requests are reviewed twice per year by the CISL HPC Allocation Panel (CHAP). In October 2014 and April 2015 combined, the CHAP reviewed 90 requests for 472 million core-hours on the Yellowstone system, while university researchers also submitted nearly 230 small allocation requests during FY2015, indicating a growing demand for resources well beyond Yellowstone’s current capacity.

In geographic scope, CISL’s university users represent hundreds of different universities and collaborating institutions, primarily in the U.S. as defined by our HPC mission. CISL allocations to university researchers have supported the scientific objectives of more than 150 different NSF awards each year for the past decade. In FY2015, active projects supported more than 300 unique NSF awards, and 780 university projects were open during the year on CISL resources (an 11% increase over FY2014).

A comparable portion (29%) of Yellowstone is also allocated to NCAR researchers in support of the computational needs of the NCAR laboratories, including NCAR Strategic Capability (NSC) projects. A new cohort of these large-scale projects was reviewed in April 2015 by a panel of NCAR computational scientists and approved by the NCAR Executive Committee.

About 28% of Yellowstone is available to the CSL at NCAR; in FY2015, the CSL review process was the responsibility of the CHAP. In addition to supporting the CESM community allocation, CSL projects engage researchers funded by NSF awards to pursue climate-related science questions requiring large-scale simulations of Earth’s climate system.

The Wyoming-NCAR Alliance (WNA), which targets geosciences collaborations among the University of Wyoming, NCAR, and institutions in other EPSCoR states, convened the Wyoming Resource Allocation Panel (WRAP) in February and July 2015. In FY2015, the WNA awarded 55.6 million core-hours to nine large projects, and initiated nine small allocations; 33 different WNA projects used nearly 50 million Yellowstone core-hours.

This work is a crucial part of CISL’s computing imperative to provide hardware cyberinfrastructure customized for the atmospheric and related sciences. This ongoing service for users is supported by NSF Core funds including CSL funding. The Wyoming Resource Allocation Panel (WRAP) is supported by funding from the University of Wyoming.