CISL progress showcased in FY2016 Annual Report

By Brian Bevirt
12/19/2016 - 11:00am
Ocean flow dynamics
NCAR’s Data Analysis and Visualization (DAV) environment facilitates scientific workflows by providing UCAR’s research community with state-of-the-art systems tailored for the specialized needs of parallel data post-processing, analysis, and visualization. This figure is taken from an animation of the ocean flow dynamics that occur near the Great Barrier Reef near the northeast coast of Australia. It was produced using data from a model called CT-ROMS (Coral Triangle Regional Ocean Modelling System). CT-ROMS simulated 10 years of ocean activity in the Indonesian Throughflow, a region having the most complex ocean flow patterns in the world. The flow data are being used to better understand coral reefs through a metric called Potential Connectivity, which demonstrates how well coral reefs can re-seed their neighbors with larvae while they are being carried by these complex flow patterns. Understanding how reefs can regenerate each other has never been more imperative than it is right now because the most extensive coral bleaching event in recorded history is being observed at the Great Barrier Reef.

NCAR’s Computational and Information Systems Laboratory (CISL) structures its plans and operates its projects to provide world-class service, science, and education for the Earth System sciences research community. CISL manages NCAR’s unique supercomputing and data services tailored to the atmospheric, geospace, and related science communities that include thousands of researchers at hundreds of universities. CISL also produces broader impacts in the community by providing leadership in high performance computing and diversifying the nation’s research workforce. CISL’s FY2016 Annual Report highlights its most recent contributions and successes in all of these areas.

Again during FY2016, CISL staff produced standout accomplishments that support all three of its strategic goals in service, science, and education.


CISL’s service portfolio includes cyberinfrastructure, user support, big data, and information technology. The FY2016 service highlight occurred in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where the NWSC facility was fully prepared and the Cheyenne system was installed and powered up before the end of the fiscal year, all while the Yellowstone system operated at full productivity without interruption. The Cheyenne supercomputer is scheduled to begin production in January 2017.


CISL’s science advances combined petascale supercomputing resources with the latest computational science research in algorithms, mathematical techniques, and statistical methods applied to Earth System science. New implementations of scalable data assimilation algorithms were developed for large atmosphere and ocean prediction models through collaboration with scientists across NCAR. Strides in interpreting and using heterogeneous data continued throughout the year. Computing for climate models was accelerated through new algorithms and by exploiting emerging technologies such as coprocessors. CISL scientists also developed computationally efficient parallelizable data analysis techniques and data processing tools. And long-term research efforts are now succeeding in building uncertainty measures into climate models in ways that are useful for decision making and policy.


CISL helps develop the research workforce of the future by integrating education into our research, training researchers in scientific computing, and reaching out to attract new and diverse talent to our scientific and technical enterprises. CISL’s SIParCS internship program completed its tenth year and provided rich and varied research experiences for 13 students. Numerous educational events continued to bring mathematicians and computer scientists to NCAR, and these led to collaborations, influenced graduate student research, and enriched our staff. Training in using HPC systems and CISL-developed data analysis and visualization tools developed more capable and effective researchers. And community outreach increased NCAR’s connection with and maximized our impact on the university community, students, interns, and future employees. CISL’s outreach efforts actively attracted qualified candidates – particularly those from diverse backgrounds – to our research enterprise and allowed us to enrich our workforce while increasing its diversity.

CISL also tracks and enhances the ways it expands the community by diversifying the research workforce and producing innovations and a wide range of leading-edge projects in high performance computing and cyberinfrastructure. CISL’s yearly annual reports highlight its most recent contributions and successes in all of these areas.

Please review CISL’s FY2016 Annual Report to learn about the work we do and what we’ve accomplished in the past year.