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NCSA and Partners Win Hpcwire Editors’ Choice Award for Earthdem Collaboration

Group photograph of NCSA winning the 'Best HPC Collaboration' award at SC19

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign won Best Academic/Government collaboration as part of the annual HPCwire Editors’ Choice Awards, at the 2019 International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis (SC19), in Denver, Colorado.

NCSA is honored to be awarded for our contributions in geospatial research. Congratulations to our research partners, and thank you to HPCwire for this recognition.

William “Bill” Gropp, NCSA Director

The awarded collaboration, which involves NCSA’s Blue Waters Project, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), the Polar Geospatial Center at the University of Minnesota, the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center and the Ohio Supercomputer Center at The Ohio State University, the Arctic Geodata Cooperative, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), is producing high resolution digital elevation models of the entire Earth (EarthDEM), among other geospatial research projects.

“This is the beginning of building a long-term strategic relationship between NGA and the University of Illinois and our other partners, centered on high-performance computing and data analysis,” said NCSA Director William “Bill” Gropp. “The Blue Waters collaboration is the first of what we anticipate will be many years of research collaborations between NGA and Illinois, as well as NCSA.”

This $11.1 million collaboration, which is funded by the NGA, comes on the heels of the successful ArcticDEM and Reference Elevation Model of Antarctica (REMA) collaborations and will make Blue Waters the most powerful dedicated, non-classified, geospatial system in the world. This brings unprecedented speed and efficiency to global mapping, and fundamentally changing the way humans view the Earth.

“In the past three and a half years, the ability to create production-quality, high resolution digital elevation models from satellite data has revolutionized the way highly-accurate maps can be created,” said William “Bill” Kramer, Director of the Blue Waters project. “With this collaboration we have the unique opportunity to apply these geospatial innovations on a global scale. The EarthDEM products have use in a myriad of applications the be used by many others for research, engineering and development for impact far beyond just the maps.”

Approved for Public Release #20-125


The National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign provides supercomputing and advanced digital resources for the nation’s science enterprise. At NCSA, University of Illinois faculty, staff, students and collaborators from around the globe use these resources to address research challenges for the benefit of science and society. NCSA has been advancing many of the world’s industry giants for over 35 years by bringing industry, researchers and students together to solve grand challenges at rapid speed and scale.

Blue Waters is supported by the National Science Foundation through awards OCI-0725070 and ACI-1238993.

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