UAlbany Advanced Computing System Provides Large-Scale Capacity to Examine Arctic Sea-Ice Variations, Tropical Hurricane Formation

Texas Mill Wind Farm

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 25, 2013) A new, highly sophisticated computing system will allow several new University at Albany Atmospheric Scientists to conduct large-scale research of arctic sea-ice variations, tropical hurricane formations and structure, and boundary layer weather conditions of large operational wind farms.  

The computing system, which combines servers and storage into a ‘cluster,’ represents the University’s most powerful and architecturally advanced supercomputer.  

UAlbany’s Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences (DAES) and the Office of Information Technology Services ((ITS) acquired the supercomputer, aided in part by a $35,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). The cluster provides the department with the computing capability to conduct large-scale atmospheric modeling projects.

Liming Zhou, Jiping Liu, Justin Minder, and Brian Tang, all faculty in the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences

UAlbany Atmospheric Sciences faculty members will utilize the cluster for the following research: 

·Understand how weather and climate works on the scales at which humans and ecosystems are affected - Assistant Professor Justin Minder will use to the cluster for high-resolution simulations of the processes controlling temperatures, winds, rain, and snow on local scales, as well as the processes shaping local response to climate change. The computational power provided by SNOW will allow for detailed simulation of individual cloud features, such as lake-effect snow bands. It will also offer long simulations that characterize the mechanisms of regional climate change such as the effect of snow-loss over mountains on regional weather and hydrology.  

·Study the impacts of changing polar sea ice on weather and climate, and implement polar sea ice forecasting - Assistant Professor Jiping Liu will utilize the cluster to explore how arctic sea-ice variations impact the weather in high latitudes during winter subsequent to the observed variations.   

·Investigate the causes of variability in hurricane structure, intensity and frequency using a hierarchy of different modeling approaches - Assistant Professor Brian Tang will use SNOW to run idealized simulations investigating the climatology of tropical disturbances and clusters of convection, and idealized high-resolution hurricane simulations to investigate the dynamics and thermodynamics of tropical cyclones.  

·Conduct numerical simulations using Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) models to explore the impact of wind farms on local climates - Associate Professor Liming Zhou will conduct high-resolution modeling using weather and climate prediction models. He will examine the sensitivity of key hydro-climate variables to the presence of large operational wind farms, and monitor the changes in atmospheric boundary layer processes and conditions in the context of land cover use and global warming.  

Housed in the University Data Center, the cluster consists of 512 Intel cores with 4 terabytes of RAM, 30 terabytes of scratch disk space and a quad-data-rate Infiniband computational communication backplane. The system can be instantly configured to give individual investigators dedicated, reserved resources or work as one large system.

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