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  • Writer's pictureZachary Epps

The NCAR supercomputer plays a crucial role in advancing scientific research


 NCAR supercomputer


The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) supercomputer plays a crucial role in advancing scientific research, particularly in the fields of atmospheric and Earth system sciences. NCAR, located in Boulder, Colorado, is a federally funded research and development center dedicated to studying the Earth's atmosphere and its interactions with various components of the planet's environment.


The system was built by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and was installed in 2021 at the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC) in Cheyenne, Wyoming. It became operational in early 2022 and replaced the existing system, known as Cheyenne.


The HPE-Cray EX supercomputer is a 19.87-petaflops system, meaning it will have the theoretical ability to perform 19.87 quadrillion calculations per second. That is almost 3.5 times the speed of scientific computing performed by the Cheyenne supercomputer. Once it became operational, the HPE-powered system ranks among the top 25 or so fastest supercomputers in the world.


The NCAR supercomputer is a powerful computing resource that enables scientists to perform complex simulations, data analyses, and modeling experiments related to climate, weather, and atmospheric processes. High-performance computing (HPC) systems like the NCAR supercomputer are essential for tackling the immense computational demands of simulating Earth's complex systems and understanding their behaviors and impacts.

Key features and contributions of the NCAR supercomputer include:

  1. Cutting-edge Hardware: The supercomputer is equipped with state-of-the-art hardware components, including high-speed processors, large memory banks, and high-performance storage systems. This enables researchers to run highly detailed simulations and process large datasets efficiently.

  2. Climate and Weather Modeling: Climate and weather modeling require significant computational power due to the intricate interactions between various factors, such as ocean currents, atmospheric dynamics, and land surface processes. The NCAR supercomputer enables scientists to develop more accurate climate models and make better predictions about future climate scenarios and extreme weather events.

  3. Natural Disaster Prediction: The supercomputer plays a crucial role in predicting natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires. By running advanced simulations, scientists can improve forecasting accuracy and provide timely information to authorities and the public, potentially saving lives and minimizing damage.

  4. Air Quality Studies: The supercomputer helps researchers analyze air quality patterns, pollution dispersion, and the impact of pollutants on human health and the environment. This information is vital for developing strategies to improve air quality and mitigate the effects of pollution.

  5. Environmental Research: Beyond atmospheric sciences, the NCAR supercomputer supports research across various environmental disciplines. It aids in studying ecosystems, ocean currents, geological processes, and interactions between Earth's different components.

  6. Data Analysis and Visualization: In addition to simulations, the supercomputer assists researchers in analyzing vast amounts of observational data and creating visualizations that help convey complex scientific findings to a broader audience.

  7. Collaboration and Accessibility: The supercomputer serves as a resource for researchers and scientists worldwide. It facilitates collaboration and knowledge exchange by enabling remote access for experts who may not have access to such high-performance computing capabilities at their institutions.

The NCAR supercomputer represents a significant investment in computational science and is essential for advancing our understanding of the Earth system's behavior and the potential impacts of human activities on the environment. As technology continues to evolve, the capabilities of supercomputers like those at NCAR are likely to grow, enabling even more detailed and accurate simulations and analyses that contribute to scientific progress and informed decision-making.


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Zachary Epps

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