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June 2002

NCAR to build software for Earth System Modeling Framework

SCD’s Cecelia DeLuca is one of the three technical managers working on the collaborative Earth System Modeling Framework. (Photo by Lynda Lester.)

NCAR has received a $3.8 million NASA grant to develop the core software for the Earth System Modeling Framework, a collaborative venture that aims to greatly enhance computer modeling of the Earth’s weather and climate.

The framework will allow some of the nation’s most widely used computer models of the Earth’s climate and weather to work together and permit vast amounts of data collected by observational instruments to be assimilated into the models. The result will be more realistic simulations of weather and climate, better use of observational data, and, ultimately, more accurate predictions.

"The new software framework will help scientists and engineers develop and share the modern software components essential to accelerated progress in modeling the Earth’s climate and weather systems," says NCAR director Tim Killeen, one of the three lead scientists for the interlinked framework-building program. "The effort brings together computational scientists, software engineers, and Earth scientists involved in weather and climate modeling and data assimilation to create a shared scientific tool that will provide a common infrastructure for computer modeling. This unprecedented level

of cooperation will make models simultaneously easier to develop and more powerful."

The grant to NCAR is part of a three-year, $9.8 million project to develop and deploy the framework. The project leaders are Tim, John Marshall (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), and Arlindo da Silva (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center). Additional participating institutions include the Department of Energy’s Los Alamos and Argonne National Laboratories, NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and National Centers for Environmental Prediction, and the University of Michigan.

Working with their colleagues from those institutions, six software engineers at NCAR will spend the next three years building the core infrastructure, which will offer integrated tools for communication among components, time management, performance profiling, and other common functions. CGD and MMM are also participating: the Community Climate System Model and the Weather Research and Forecasting Model are testbeds for the framework.

"An application running on the framework will resemble a sandwich," says SCD’s Cecelia DeLuca, one of the partnership’s three technical managers along with Christopher Hill of MIT and V. Balaji of the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. Cecelia explains that the bottom slice of bread can be thought of as the infrastructure, providing utilities and data structures that allow developers to build applications more easily. The top slice is the superstructure, containing tools for coupling that allow model components to work together. And the sandwich filling consists of the software written for specific modeling applications.

The Earth System Modeling Framework will handle all interconnections among atmosphere, land, ocean, and other models coupled to form larger environmental models. The framework will help improve the fidelity and predictive capability of the models by making it much simpler for researchers to compare alternative scientific approaches from many different sources.

The framework grant is part of a three-year, $22.8 million initiative for 11 teams to develop advanced scientific software frameworks for high-end computers. The Computational Technologies Project in NASA’s Earth Science Technology Office is funding the initiative. oZhenya Gallon, with reporting by Lynda Lester, SCD.

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Edited by David Hosansky, hosansky@ucar.edu
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Last revised: Wed June 26 17:08:40 MST 2001