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Nine UW Projects Awarded Summer Use of Supercomputer in Cheyenne

June 28, 2016
curved view of rows of computer servers
Nine new projects, headed by UW researchers, were recently chosen to receive computational time and storage space on the supercomputer in Cheyenne. (UW Photo)

Nine projects, a number of which have applications to atmospheric science issues, were recently chosen to receive computational time and storage space on the supercomputer in Cheyenne.

University of Wyoming faculty members and, in one case, a graduate student, 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 the experimental design, computational effectiveness, efficiency of resource use, and broader impacts such as how the project involves both UW and NCAR researchers; strengthens UW's research capacity; enhances UW's computational programs; or involves research in a new or emerging field.

“The Wyoming-NCAR Allocations Panel evaluated a record-high nine requests,” says Bryan Shader, UW’s special assistant to the vice president for research and economic development, and professor of mathematics. “The projects were granted allocations totaling 42.6 million core hours of computing time on Yellowstone and will enable some incredible science on issues of importance to Wyoming, the U.S. and the world. Given that Wyoming’s share of the NWSC is 75 million core hours, these allocations and the more than 40 million (core hours) allocated in February show more than full utilization of the resource.”

Twenty-five UW-led projects used Yellowstone (the nickname for the supercomputer) in 2015, and this places Wyoming as the top university in total allocations, users and usage among the more than 150 universities that use the NWSC.

Since the supercomputer came on line during October 2012, allocations have been made to 65 UW research projects, including these latest nine, which commence July 1.

The newest projects, with a brief description and principal investigators, are as follows:

-- Maohang Fan, a UW professor of petroleum engineering, heads a project, titled “Application of Density Functional Theory in CO2 Capture and Conversion Research.” The project, partially funded by the Department of Energy, seeks to design promising catalysts for capturing and converting carbon dioxide. Collaborators include Wenyong Wang, a UW professor of physics and astronomy; Ted Russell, the Howard T. Tellepsen Chair and Regents’ Professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Georgia Tech; and Hongtao Yu, professor and chair in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Jackson State University.

-- Bart Geerts, a UW professor of atmospheric science, heads the project, titled “Regional Climate Change Assessment in the Interior Western USA Using a Dynamical Downscaling Method with CCSM Bias Corrections: Focus on Precipitation and Snowpack.” The project focuses on better understanding how the distribution of precipitation, snowpack and stream-flow in the headwaters region of Wyoming are expected to change over the next 30-40 years. A better understanding of long-term changes in Wyoming  watersheds is of great interest to the state’s water obligations and water development opportunities, as well as to agricultural and forestry interests in the state, and to downstream stakeholders.

Collaborators include UW postdoctoral student Yonggang Wang, UW doctoral student Xiaoqing Jing and Changhai Liu, a scientist from NCAR’s Research Applications Laboratory. The project is partially supported by the Wyoming Water Development Commission.

-- Zachary Lebo, a UW assistant professor of atmospheric science, leads a project, titled “Investigating Forecast Performance in Wyoming Using a High-Resolution Numerical Weather Prediction Model.” Lebo is interested in better understanding factors that result in forecast errors for weather across Wyoming and, in using this understanding, to create better prediction tools for ground blizzards. His project will lay the groundwork for a real-time Wyoming forecasting operation, and aspects of the project and modeling will be incorporated into UW’s “Introduction to Atmospheric Science” undergraduate course.

-- Xiahong Liu, a UW professor of atmospheric science and the Wyoming Excellence Chair in Climate, will lead two projects. The first, titled “Quantifying the Impacts of Absorbing Aerosols on Rocky Mountain Regional Climate,” seeks to better understand the impacts on regional climate from the presence of light-absorbing aerosols, such as dust and particles from fires or pollution on top of snow. 

man standing with arm resting on bookshelf
Xiahong Liu, a UW professor of atmospheric science and the Wyoming Excellence Chair in Climate, will lead two research projects that will have use of the supercomputer in Cheyenne. (UW Photo)

Collaborators include Louisa Emmons, Simone Tilmes, Andrew Gettelman and Mary Barth from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR); and Chun Zhao, Yun Qian and Ruby Leun from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The project is partially funded by the College of Engineering and Applied Science’s Tier-1 Engineering Initiative.

The second project, titled “Modeling the Impacts of Biomass Burning Aerosols on Marine Stratocumulus Clouds Using a Hierarchical Modeling System,” will study the effects of particulates from wildfires on cloud formation.

Collaborators include NCAR’s Emmons, Tilmes, Barth and Gettelman; Yuhang Wang, professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology; and Yun Qian, of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The project is partially supported by a National Science Foundation (NSF)/Department of Energy grant.

-- Subhashis Mallick, a UW geology and geophysics professor, will lead the project, titled “Anistropic Reverse-Time Mitigation and Full-Wave Form Inversion of Single and Multicomponent Seismic Data and Joint Inversion Single Component Seismic and Electromagnetic Data.” The project will develop the key analytic tools needed to use seismic studies to determine the storage capacity, optimum resource recovery, and other qualities of subsurface reservoirs as carbon dioxide storage and sequestration sites.

-- Scott Miller, a UW professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, heads a project, titled “Integrating Dynamically Downscaled Climate Data with Hydrologic Models.” The project will couple atmospheric and hydrologic models to study the impacts on water resources and flow regimes in the Crow Creek watershed in southeast Wyoming under different climate scenarios. This is one of the main watersheds providing water to Cheyenne. The project is supported by an NSF grant, called Water in a Changing West.

-- Fred Ogden, a UW professor in the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering, leads a project, titled “ADHydro Model Development,” that will further develop and test a large-scale hydrological model that incorporates the groundwater-surface water interactions that are of importance in management of reservoirs, diversions, etc. Both National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. National Water Center are considering incorporating Ogden’s ADHydro model into their models.

-- Wei Wang, a UW graduate student majoring in geology and geophysics, will undertake a project, titled “Near-Surface Adjoint Tomography Based on the Discontinuous Galerkin Method.” The goal of his study is to image and study a portion of the Earth’s critical zone, or the portion of the Earth between bedrock and treetops. In particular, Wang will use near-surface seismic data to understand how rocks and soil weather. Research will focus on a site near Blair-Wallis in southeastern Wyoming. The project is partially supported by the NSF grant Water in a Changing West.

By the numbers

The most recent recommended allocations total 42.6 million core hours, 270 terabytes of archival storage, and 47,000 hours on data analysis and visualization systems, Shader says. To provide some perspective on what these numbers mean, here are some useful comparisons. In simplest terms, Yellowstone can be thought of as 72,576 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 24.5 days­, 24 hours a day. The 270 terabytes of storage would be enough to store the entire printed collection of the U.S. Library of Congress more than 20 times.

Yellowstone consists of about 70,000 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 successor to the Yellowstone cluster, to be called Cheyenne, is scheduled to come online in early 2017. It is anticipated that Yellowstone will be retired in late 2017. In fall 2017, Wyoming researchers will have an opportunity to apply for early opportunities to use Cheyenne for ambitious projects that utilize Cheyenne’s increased capabilities.

In late 2016, Wyoming researchers will be able to apply for regular allocations on Cheyenne. Wyoming’s share of Cheyenne will be around 160 million core hours per year. The new high-performance computer will be a 5.34-petaflop system, meaning it can carry out 5.34 quadrillion calculations per second. It will be capable of more than 2.5 times the amount of scientific computing performed by Yellowstone.

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 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 geo-science topics. The center also houses a premier data storage and archival facility that holds historical climate records and other information.


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