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4 more research groups using Blue Waters Early Science System

Four additional research teams have begun using the first phase of the Blue Waters sustained-petascale supercomputer to tackle challenging problems in science and engineering. They join six research groups that began using the system in March.

The Blue Waters Early Science System, which is made up of 48 Cray XE6 cabinets, represents about 15 percent of the total Blue Waters computational system and is currently the most powerful computing resource available through the National Science Foundation. The full Blue Waters supercomputer will be completely deployed and available for research later this year, and will provide sustained performance of 1 petaflop (1 quadrillion calculations per second).

The four new teams using the Early Science System are:

  • Cristiana Stan of George Mason University and the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies leads a team that investigates tropical cyclones. The development of these dangerous storms involves interaction of the atmosphere, the ocean, and clouds; attempts to simulate tropical cyclones with models that do not account for all of these factors show poor results. Stan’s team will, for the first time, use a global ocean-atmosphere model in which cloud processes are explicitly included to retrospectively “forecast” the Atlantic hurricane activity of 2005. This will determine whether including the cloud processes improves the accuracy of forecasting.
  • The team led by Robert Wilhelmson of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is studying severe storms, tornadoes, and hurricanes. The current large-eddy simulations are being carried out by team-member George Bryan of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the developer of the CM1 weather modeling code, to study turbulence in an idealized hurricane. Turbulence effects in a hurricane’s eyewall are an important factor in determining hurricane intensity. Using the Blue Waters Early Science System, this team will explicitly resolve turbulent eddies with higher resolution and more detail than before. These results can then be used to improve courser resolution model simulations of real hurricanes.
  • Paul Woodward leads a team including researchers at the University of Minnesota and the University of Victoria that is using Blue Waters to simulate the hydrogen ingestion process and subsequent burning of this fuel in the helium shell convection zone of a giant star near the end of its life, a phenomenon that gives rise to the synthesis of heavy elements.
  • P.K. Yeung’s research team at Georgia Tech is studying turbulent fluid flows. Better understanding of the small-scale manifestation of the intermittency and irregularity of these flows is important to phenomena such as local flame extinction/re-ignition in turbulent combustion. Highly-resolved numerical simulation data are also expected to help clarify long-standing issues in turbulence theory.

For more information about Blue Waters and the science and engineering research it will support, see

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