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UW Faculty Have Until May 15 to Apply for Supercomputer Use

April 21, 2014
Visualization of wind turbine operation
This computer simulation of a wind turbine at work is part of a project in which UW Professor Dimitri Mavriplis is using Yellowstone, the nickname for the NWSC supercomputer. UW faculty members have until May 15 to submit their applications for the latest round of core-hour allocations for use of the supercomputer. (Visualization by Min Shih and Kwan-Lui Ma, University of California-Davis)

University of Wyoming faculty members interested in using the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC) in Cheyenne for their computational research have until May 15 to submit an application to request a large core-hour allocation on the powerful machine for a year.

Applications and allocation information can be accessed at The research must lie in earth system science or atmospheric science. A list of eligible science areas is available at A PowerPoint presentation that offers suggestions on how to write a competitive proposal can be found at

Any request for more than 200,000 core hours is considered a large request. Requests average about 5 million to 6 million core hours per project, says Bryan Shader, UW’s special assistant to the vice president of research and economic development, and a mathematics professor.

“In January’s round of large allocations, four UW projects were awarded a total of 15.8 million core hours,” says Shader, who also serves as co-chair of the Wyoming-NCAR Alliance Resource Allocations Panel (WRAP), a group that chooses which projects receive core-hour allocations on Yellowstone, the nickname for the Cheyenne supercomputer.

Yellowstone currently supports 30 active projects.

“This ranks the University of Wyoming No. 1 in active projects and No. 1 in total users at the NWSC among all other universities,” Shader says. “Several requests for allocations for new projects, as well as renewals of existing projects, are anticipated.”

The Wyoming share of the NWSC resources is currently 75 million core hours of computing on Yellowstone; around 400 terabytes of high-performance storage on GLADE; and 5 petabytes of longer-term tape storage on HPSS.

Successful allocation requests include benchmarking studies on a smaller scale and on a smaller computer. These benchmark studies can be performed using Mount Moran, the nickname for UW’s Advanced Research Computing Center (ARCC).

Most recent supercomputing projects

Seven projects received allocations in November 2012; another six were selected in February 2013; four more were chosen during July 2013; and four were picked in December 2013.

The most recent projects, currently in progress, are:

-- Felipe Pereira, a School of Energy Resources professor of mathematics and petroleum engineering, “A Novel Uncertainty Quantification Framework for Subsurface Flows Coupled with Geomechanics Area of Interest: Mathematics and Statistics.” This project is developing improved methods for predictive simulation of subsurface flows that incorporate dynamic data to reduce uncertainty of the predictions. Dynamic data includes saturation measurements taken by CT scanners in lab-scale problems and production curves in field-scale operations.

-- Jordan Hayes, a doctoral student in geology and geophysics, “Imaging Deep Critical Zone Structure with Seismic Waveform Tomography.” Hayes’ research is conducted under the supervision of Po Chen, a UW professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics.

The project will use newly developed modeling techniques and high-resolution seismic refraction to shed insight into water storage and groundwater flow, and how near-surface rocks in the critical zone weather over time. The project is part of the Wyoming Center for Environmental Hydrology and Geophysics (WyCEHG), which is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

-- Dimitri Mavriplis, Max Castagne Professor of Mechanical Engineering, “Computational Study of Wind Turbine Performance and Loading Response to Turbulent Atmospheric Inflow Conditions.”

The project simulates large wind farms at high resolution. UW developed simulation software that is coupled with NCAR’s Weather Research Forecast model, RF, to provide simulated wind-farm performance in a variety of weather scenarios. The work will develop methods that will allow for accurate simulations that can be used in the design of a large wind farm. This research is partially supported by a grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

Jay Sitaraman, an SER assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and Jonathan Naughton, a professor of mechanical engineering, are co-investigators of the project.

The recent issue of Lawrence Livermore National Lab’s Science and Technology Review highlights some of UW’s groundbreaking work in this area.

-- Xiaohong Liu, Wyoming Excellence Chair in Climate Modeling, Department of Atmospheric Science, “Investigating the Impact of Absorbing Aerosols on the Regional Climate of North America Under Current and Future Climate Conditions.”

His project goal is to better understand the role of black carbon emitted by wildfires and mineral dust lofted into the atmosphere from arid regions on decadal climate variation. This will ultimately lead to better climate prediction capabilities. The project is supported by a Department of Energy and NSF award, titled “Wildfire and Regional Climate Variability -- Mechanisms, Modeling and Prediction.”

Project collaborators include Yuhang Wang of Georgia State University; Chun Zhao of Pacific Northwest Laboratory; Hanqin Tian of Auburn University; and Yongqiang Liu of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The NWSC is the result of a partnership among the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), the operating entity for NCAR; UW; the state of Wyoming; Cheyenne LEADS; the Wyoming Business Council; and Cheyenne Light, Fuel and Power. The NWSC is operated by NCAR under sponsorship of the NSF.

The NWSC contains one of the world's most powerful supercomputers (1.5 petaflops, which is equal to 1.5 quadrillion mathematical operations per second) dedicated to improving scientific understanding of climate change, severe weather, air quality and other vital atmospheric science and geo-science topics. The center also houses a premier data storage (16 petabytes) and archival facility that holds historical climate records and other information.

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