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Summer 2000

My Interactions with NCAR Computing

by T.N. Krishnamurti

Editor's Note: T.N. Krishnamurti is a professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences of the Florida State University. His research interests include high-resolution forecasting of hurricane tracks, landfall, and intensities; short- and long-range monsoon prediction; and interseasonal and interannual variability of the tropical atmosphere.

T.N. Krishnamurti

The NCAR computing facility has been a backbone for my lab's computing since 1965, when we started using the CDC 6600 machine. Then, Akira Kasahara and Warren Washington were the stalwarts on general circulation modeling—and they still are some 35 years later! Over the years, we have accessed every NCAR supercomputer.

In the early 1970s, our group was engaged in the mapping of east-west circulation. My graduate student, Masao Kanamitsu, and I used to arrive at NCAR every month for a weekend with our boxes of data and Fortran codes on punch cards. The NCAR help desk was always available to steer us. Computing in those days was a long and arduous process. It was not uncommon to see some of the best in the field wandering the hallways late at night, discussing future directions for numerical weather prediction and climate. After long nights of computing, we needed to grab 40 winks on the cots in the first-aid room before we returned to work on Monday.

NCAR led the world in large-scale atmospheric computing in the 1970s. In 1977, the CRAY-1 machine provided us with invaluable computing for our early efforts on tropical numerical weather prediction. (For this and all our studies, we have relied on the Data Support Section of NCAR, especially the indispensable Roy Jenne, who developed the Mass Storage System.) The close ties between the NCAR computing facility and the computer manufacturer was evident in the success of the CRAY-1. Seymour Cray worked with Stu Patterson and Jeanne Adams of NCAR to develop the needed software to make the Cray-1 a truly successful computing platform.

Over the last three decades, I have had close ties with Rick Anthes, Dave Williamson, Joe Tribbia, Rol Madden, and many other staff members. Chester Newton was my teacher of mesoscale meteorology at the University of Chicago, and he visited Florida State University on several occasions in the 1970s and 1980s. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, we developed the concept of physical initialization. The C-90 was one of the computers that enabled us to move to the handling of very high resolution for the handling of precipitation, initialization, and monsoon forecasts.

The computing resources at NCAR have helped further the careers of a number of my students. Dave Baumhefner joined NCAR in 1966 and started his modeling career at the Mesa Lab. Dave has earned himself a great reputation for his careful modeling contributions. Phil Rasch, whom I first knew as a joint NCAR/FSU Ph.D. student under the direction of Dave Williamson of NCAR and myself, is now a world-renowned scientist on transport chemistry issues.

We university visitors have received invaluable help from Stu Patterson, John Adams, Jeanne Adams, Gloria Williamson, Bill Buzbee, and others who have staffed the computing facility. FSU's and NCAR's modeling divisions have always exchanged visits, which has led to many improvements in our models. NCAR's Community Climate Model and Mesoscale Model are the most widely used global and regional models in our entire community. The credit for these models goes to the scientists who developed them. The most recent versions of both models came largely from the efforts of NCAR scientists; university science has benefited immensely from having these platforms, especially for climate and mesoscale weather. NCAR computer facilities over the years provided the needed support to make these as truly national and international products as possible.


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Edited by Carol Rasmussen, carolr@ucar.edu
Prepared for the Web by Jacque Marshall
Last revised: Fri Sep 1 16:44:56 MDT 2000