CISL: a computing laboratory

Overview | Facilities | Gateways and Grids | Hardware | Software | Scientific Data Collections

Computing

Overview

NCAR’s supercomputing resources serve nearly 1,300 users in a wide variety of disciplines including climatology, meteorology, oceanography, astrophysics, fluid dynamics, and turbulence. In particular, CISL provisions a balanced suite of high-performance resources that allows today’s Earth System models to simulate atmosphere, ocean, sea ice, and land surface processes with increasing fidelity.

CISL operates and oversees computing facilities, both virtual and physical, and ensures that the hardware and software needs of the scientific community are met. CISL develops and curates research data sets and maintains online user access to the archive. CISL also provides virtualization and grid technologies, promoting collaboration and sharing of valuable scientific resources.

CISL has been providing world-class supercomputing and data management services to its user community for decades. See our Supercomputers page for a look at the history of these systems.


Facilities

CISL deploys and operates the physical and virtual computational facilities needed to support the science community.

  • NWSC — The NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC), which opened in October 2012, is a world-class center for high-performance scientific computing in the atmospheric and related sciences.
  • Mesa Lab Computing Facility — High-end computing has been a vital facility at NCAR since it was founded, and NCAR's Mesa Lab computing center has handled the computational requirements of the atmospheric and related sciences community for forty years, coping with technology changes that span orders of magnitude in performance and data storage capacity.
  • Community Computing — NCAR's virtual Community Computing facility provides computing support for NCAR research and extends the computing resources for university scientists so they can pursue investigations beyond the scope of university computing centers.
  • Climate Simulation Lab — The Climate Simulation Laboratory (CSL) at NCAR is a dedicated climate model computing facility that supports the multiagency US Global Change Research Program by providing high-performance computing and data storage systems for large-scale, long-running simulations of the Earth's climate system.
  • XSEDE — NCAR is part of the National Science Foundation's Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) project. NCAR’s role is to provide support aimed at deploying, hardening, and optimizing software systems necessary for the geoscience community to create new knowledge using XSEDE resources and related technologies.
  • Visualization Laboratory (Vislab) — NCAR's Visualization Lab is both an AccessGrid site and a state-of-the-art scientific visualization environment capable of stereo projection.
  • Allocations for computing resources — To access CISL resources, users must apply for allocations, according to the policies of the relevant facilities.

Gateways and Grids

Gateways and GridsCISL develops science gateways and other Grid-based technologies to support and enhance the development of virtual organizations.

  • Advanced Cooperative Arctic Data and Information Service — The Advanced Cooperative Arctic Data and Information Service (ACADIS) provides self service data archival, preservation and access for projects funded by NSF's Arctic Science Program (ARC).
  • Asteroseismic Modeling Portal — The Asteroseismic Modeling Portal (AMP) provides a web-based interface for astronomers to use the Aarhus Stellar Evolution Code coupled with a parallel genetic algorithm to derive the properties of Sun-like stars from observations of their pulsation frequencies.
  • Chronopolis — NCAR has partnered with the San Diego Supercomputer Center, the UCSD Libraries, and UMIACS in creating Chronopolis as a national center for the management, long-term preservation, and promulgation of national digital assets.
  • Community Data Portal — The Community Data Portal (CDP) is a collection of more than 8,000 earth science data sets from NCAR, UCAR, UOP, and participating organizations. The CDP is a self-service tool set enabling data providers to manage and share their data.
  • Earth System Grid — The Earth System Grid (ESG) integrates supercomputers with large-scale data and analysis servers located at numerous national labs and research centers to create a powerful environment for next generation climate research.
  • XSEDE — NCAR is part of the National Science Foundation's Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) project, which replaces and expands the TeraGrid – a nationwide cyberinfrastructure effort that served the HPC needs of a broad spectrum of science and engineering disciplines for a decade.

Hardware

Hardware

CISL provides computing, storage, data analysis, visualization, networking, and archival systems customized to support the atmospheric and related sciences.

  • Yellowstone — A 1.5-petaflops high-performance computing system with 72,288 processor cores and 144 terabytes of memory. It is housed at the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC).
  • Geyser and Caldera — The Geyser and Caldera clusters, successors to the Mirage and Storm systems, are specialized data analysis and visualization resources within the data-centric Yellowstone environment.
  • Janus — The Janus system is a Dell Linux cluster that is housed on the CU-Boulder campus and has a high-speed networking connection to NCAR's computing and data storage systems.
  • GLADE — The central GLADE file system significantly expands the disk space available to CISL users and allows users to access their data from both HPC and DAV systems.
  • HPSS — CISL has migrated its archival storage resource to the High-Performance Storage System (HPSS) environment, which currently stores more than 12 PB of data in support of CISL computing facilities and NCAR research activities.

CISL has been providing world-class supercomputing and data management services to its user community for decades. See our Supercomputers page for a look at the history of these systems.


Software

CISL and NCAR have developed and support a number of freely available software packages for visualization, data analysis, and high-performance computation. Most of these packages are installed on CISL resources.

  • Data Assimilation Research Testbed (DART) is a community facility for ensemble DA developed and maintained by the Data Assimilation Research Section (DAReS) at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).
  • GASpAR is an object-oriented geophysical and astrophysical spectral-element adaptive refinement code.
  • NCAR Command Language (NCL) is an interpreted language designed specifically for scientific data analysis and visualization.
  • NCAR Graphics is a Fortran- and C-based software package for scientific visualization.
  • PyNGL and PyNIO are Python packages for scientific visualization, file input/output, and data analysis.
  • VAPOR is the Visualization and Analysis Platform for Ocean, Atmosphere, and Solar Researchers.
  • Math software libraries including SPHEREPACK, MUDPACK, FISHPACK, and FFTPACK are made available as part of CISL's support for modeling geophysical processes.
  • Additional UCAR/NCAR Software Applications

Scientific Data Collections

CISL develops and curates research data sets — meteorological and oceanographic observations, operational and reanalysis model outputs, and remote sensing data sets supporting atmospheric and geosciences research — and maintains user-centered online access to this archive.

  • Advanced Cooperative Arctic Data and Information Service (ACADIS) — The Advanced Cooperative Arctic Data and Information Service (ACADIS) provides self-service data archival, preservation and access for projects funded by NSF's Arctic Science Program (ARC).
  • Community Data Portal — The Community Data Portal (CDP) is a collection of more than 8,000 earth science data sets from NCAR, UCAR, UOP, and participating organizations. The CDP is a self-service tool set enabling data providers to manage and share their data.
  • Earth System Grid — The Earth System Grid (ESG) provides a powerful environment for next generation climate research. The NCAR-ESG Gateway provides access to global and regional climate model output and software, including more than 2 PB of CESM, CCSM, and NARCCAP model output.
  • Research Data Archive (RDA) — The CISL Research Data Archive (RDA) contains a large and diverse collection of meteorological and oceanographic observations, operational and reanalysis model outputs, and remote sensing data sets to support atmospheric and geosciences research, along with ancillary data sets, such as topography/bathymetry, vegetation, and land use.