CSC News

July 18, 2008

Katrina Visualization Wins SciDAC “OASCR”

Provided with Permission from RENCI News

It wasn’t quite an Oscar, but a RENCI visualization by Steve Chall and Theresa-Marie Rhyne of RENCI’s NC State engagement center won top honors at the annual meeting of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing (SciDAC) program held in Seattle July 13 – 17.

The visualization, a Weather Research Forecast (WRF) model of Hurricane Katrina, is the work of Gary Lackmann, an associate professor in NC State’s department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and Megan Gentry, a doctoral student and member of Lackmann’s research team.

SciDAC held an Electronic Visualization and Poster night July 13 as part of its 2008 meeting. Fifty-two entries took part in the competition, and 10, including the RENCI entry, won OASCR (for Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research) awards.

RENCI staff members have been working with Lackmann’s research team since January. The researchers are using Ocracoke, RENCI's IBM Blue Gene/L supercomputer, to run detailed simulations of real and theoretical tropical storm models in an effort to understand what climate change could mean for Atlantic coast communities from New England to Central America. The three-year project, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science Global Change Research Program, involves co-principal investigators Fred Semazzi, Anantha Aiyyer, and Lian Xie, all with NC State's marine, earth and atmospheric sciences department.

Part of the work involves running massive simulations of tropical storms from the 2005 hurricane season, including Katrina, and from other active and inactive seasons using WRF. Allan Porterfield, a senior high performance computing scientist at RENCI, and Gopi Kandaswamy, a senior research software developer, worked on code that allowed the WRF model to run on Ocracoke. Chall and Rhyne helped to create dynamic, high-resolution images and animations from the data, and that visualization work was viewed at the SciDAC meeting.

Lackmann’s group next plans to run simulations that will attempt to show what Katrina and other major hurricanes might be like if they occur late in the 21st century, when warmer waters and higher atmospheric CO2 levels are expected because of climate change. Those runs will use data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to predict future environmental conditions.

To view the award-winning visualization, see . For more on Lackmann’s work, see

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