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1997-19 EMBARGOED UNTIL MAY 20, 1997

NCAR Weather Model Now Available on Microsoft Desktops

Contact: David Hosansky
UCAR Communications
P.O. Box 3000
Boulder, CO 80307-3000
Telephone: (303) 497-8611
Fax: (303) 497-8610
E-mail: hosansky@ucar.edu

Richard Wagoner
Program Manager, National Center for Atmospheric Research
Boulder, CO 80307-3000
Telephone: 303-497-8404
E-mail: wagoner@ucar.edu

Paul Chen
President and CEO, iMSC Corporation
Colorado Springs, CO 80918
Telephone: 719-548-0624
E-mail: paul@imsc.com

May 20, 1997
BOULDER--A state-of-the-art weather forecast model used worldwide by government and private agencies is now available in a desktop version using Microsoft Windows/NT. The desktop version debuts today at Microsoft's Scalability Day in New York City. Known as the MM5, the weather model has been under continuous development and testing as a research tool for 25 years by Pennsylvania State University and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado. As the scientific understanding behind the model has improved, the model itself has become so accurate that it can now be used for forecasting. NCAR's primary sponsor is the National Science Foundation.

Until now, large laboratories with costly supercomputers or high-end UNIX workstations were the only facilities able to run the model. Today, in partnership with NCAR, the iMSC Corporation in Colorado Springs is making the model available on an Intel platform so that anyone with a Pentium processor-based desktop computer in the $3,000-$4,000 range can run the same computationally intensive weather model used by domestic and foreign weather services, airport operational forecasting centers, the U.S. military, and others to simulate or forecast atmospheric processes. In addition, the Windows/NT MM5 model can run on larger Digital Equipment Corporation computers, providing scalability up to 14 processors in the AlphaServer 8400 system.

"With the Windows/NT system, MM5 users can now consolidate everything onto one desktop," says iMSC's president and chief executive officer Paul Chen. "They can run the model along with their e-mail, word processing, and spreadsheets." Because the Fortran compiler is the same, he adds, Windows/NT programs are transportable to a UNIX server without making any source code changes.

The MM5 is a "community model" in the public domain, available at no cost and in use in about 400 places around the world, including many U.S. universities, according to NCAR program manager Richard Wagoner. Chen anticipates that the partnership between NCAR and iMSC could expand the user base to over 4,000 in the next five years. This partnership is one example of NCAR's ongoing efforts in technology transfer. Says Wagoner, "We hope the increased availability of the MM5 will stimulate new research around the world and provide a new tool for operational decision makers in government and industry." MM5 development is an ongoing process, he notes. "If a customer has a special application in mind that requires new R&D, NCAR will coordinate with university scientists to address that need."

Both NCAR and iMSC will provide user support for the NT-MM5 package. NCAR offers MM5 user training twice a year. The iMSC Corporation provides MM5 operating system setup, training, and services. "iMSC will keep users in touch with MM5 enhancements so that systems are maintained at the state of the art," says Chen. The iMSC Corporation's technical specialties include complex systems integration, application migration from mainframe or vector processors, and Intranet engineering.

The MM5 migration was accomplished with Digital Equipment Corporation's Visual Fortran for Windows/NT. The graphics routines of VIS5D were converted to Open/GL using Nutcracker, and the high-performance parallelization of the computational routines was accomplished by KAP/PRO software from Kuck and Associates, Inc.

Update - February 5, 2004

The technology to run MM5 on a Windows/NT desktop machine was developed for Version 2.10 MM5 model. This technology was not transferred to Version 3 of the MM5 model and is no longer available. Version 3.6.1 has been in use since August 2003.

Version 3 can run on most single and multi-processor mainframes, as well as on Linux PC's and Linux PC clusters, but not on Windows PCs. Questions about the MM5 modeling system can be sent to mesouser@ucar.edu or visit the MM5 web site.

There are no plans to port MM5 to a Windows machine.

NCAR is managed by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.

-The End-

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Writer: Zhenya Gallon


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