Six UW Research Projects Chosen for Second Cycle of Supercomputer Use

January 31, 2013

Six University of Wyoming faculty members have been chosen to conduct research on the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC) in Cheyenne this winter.

Six research projects -- ranging from studying the efficiency of wind farms to the effect of clouds on long-term climate -- were chosen and approved by a panel appointed by the Computer Information Science Laboratory at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The computational science research projects, headed by six UW professors, will use approximately 30 million core processor hours. Of the six faculty chosen, two -- Bart Geerts and Dimitri Mavriplis -- headed computational research projects on the supercomputer during its first cycle of use, which began in November.

“These are all excellent projects,” says Bryan Shader, UW’s special assistant to the vice president of research and economic development, and a mathematics professor.

Roll call

Principal investigators, project titles and synopses, and any supporting team members, are as follows:

--Stefan Heinz, a UW associate professor of mathematics, “An Order-Magnitude Enforcement of Wind Farm Power Density.” The performance of existing wind farms is significantly below what can be achieved theoretically; due primarily to the inability to feasibly simulate a wide range of design possibilities and atmospheric conditions. Heinz’s project will use a novel computation method to explore how to best maximize the efficiency of a wind farm.

Heinz will receive assistance from Ehsan Kazemy, a UW doctoral student, and Pankaj Saha, a UW post-doctoral student.

--Noriaki Ohara, a UW assistant professor of civil and architectural engineering, and Thomas Reichler, an associate professor of atmospheric science at the University of Utah, will collaborate on a project titled “Dynamic Regional Downscaling of Hydro-climate Over Complex Terrain.” This project focuses on how snowpack in alpine areas affects agriculture; and will be based on data from the Andes region of Bolivia, which is translatable to the Rocky Mountains.

--Zhien Wang, a UW professor of atmospheric science, “Understanding Tropical Convection and Mid-Level Stratiform Cloud Formation by Combining Cloud-Resolving Model Simulations and Remote Sensing Measurements.” This project will focus on modeling tropical convective clouds, and their importance to climate and weather.

Jeff Snider, a UW professor of atmospheric science, and David Leon, a UW senior research scientist in atmospheric sciences, will serve as co-investigators. Andy Heymsfield, an NCAR senior scientist, also Zhein Wang, a UW professor of atmospheric science, will use the NWSC to model tropical convective clouds, which are important to climate and weather. is a team member.

--Ye Zhang, a UW assistant professor of hydrogeology in geology and geophysics, “Optimal Model Complexity in Geological Carbon Sequestration.” Her project will focus on creating computer models relative to carbon sequestration, which is capturing carbon dioxide and storing it, long-term, in geologic formations underground.

Peter Lichtner, director of OFM Research Inc., serves as the co-principal investigator. Mingkan Zhiang, a post-doctoral associate, will assist Zhang.

Familiar faces

Two of the projects will be headed by UW faculty members who already have used the supercomputer for other research projects during the first cycle of use. They are:

--Geerts, professor of atmospheric science, “High-Resolution Regional Scale Climate Simulations Focused on the Hydrological Cycle in the North-Central United States.” The goal of this project is to measure precipitation in the Snowy Range, and to better understand the vulnerability of ecosystems and wildlife to changes in climate in that region.

William Lauenroth, a UW professor of botany, will serve as the principal investigator. Team members include Christopher Anderson, scientist and assistant director, Climate Science Program, Iowa State University; Robert Oglesby, professor of atmospheric science, University of Nebraska at Lincoln; Changhai Liu, project scientist, Research Applications Laboratory, NCAR; Roy Rasmussen, director, Hydrometeorological Applications, NCAR; and Lawrence Buja, director, Climate Science and Applications Program.

--Mavriplis, a UW professor of mechanical engineering, “Computational Study of Wind Turbine Performances and Loading Response to Turbulent Atmosphere Inflow Conditions.” This project will create computational models of wind turbines in an effort to better understand how they react in turbulent wind conditions.

Co-investigators include Jonathan Naughton, a UW professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Wind Energy Research Center; and Jay Sitaraman, School of Energy Resources (SER) faculty and a UW assistant professor of mechanical engineering. Team members include Natasha Flyer and David Hall, both scientists from NCAR; and Sebastien Blaise, from the University Catholique De Louvain, Belgium.

It is expected that UW researchers for these projects will have access to the NWSC sometime in early February, Shader says.

NWSC is the result of a partnership among the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), the operating entity for NCAR; the University of Wyoming; the state of Wyoming; Cheyenne LEADS; the Wyoming Business Council; and Cheyenne Light, Fuel & Power. The NWSC is operated by NCAR under sponsorship of the National Science Foundation (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 (11 petabytes) and archival facility that holds historical climate records and other information.

Stefan Heinz, a UW associate professor of mathematics, is heading one of six UW computational research projects that will use the NWSC. Heinz’s project will use a novel computation method to explore how to best maximize the efficiency of a wind farm. (UW Photo)

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