RENCI debuts at International Supercomputing Conference

TAMPA, FLA, November 1, 2006-Imagine if, in the midst of a hurricane, flood or severe storm, emergency response teams could interface with a high-resolution, near real-time computer model and determine what neighborhoods were likely to be affected, how far inland storm surges would reach, how water runoff and flooding might be impacted by development, and the safest evacuation routes based on constantly changing conditions.

We’re not there yet, says Dan Reed, director of the Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) however, a collaborative project underway at RENCI is combining atmospheric, storm surge and hydrology models with flood plane, topographical, and development data to create high-resolution, holistic models that can be used in disaster planning and response. Early results in developing this system, called the North Carolina Forecasting System (NCFS), will be presented at the RENCI exhibit on the show floor of SC06 in Tampa.

RENCI, founded in 2004, will exhibit for the first time at this year’s conference.  The RENCI booth (#1143) will showcase work on the North Carolina Forecasting System on Monday night, Nov. 13, at 7:30 and on Wednesday, Nov. 15, at 11:30 a.m.  In addition, RENCI will highlight collaborations with the SURA Coastal Ocean Observing and Prediction (SCOOP) program and the Linked Environments for Atmospheric Discovery (LEAD) project.

“Storm prediction and disaster response are areas where high performance computing, visualization and data management can have major impacts on everyday life and well being,” said Reed. “At RENCI, our goal is to develop a system that can pinpoint weather phenomena as precisely as a neighborhood or a street in a neighborhood. By integrating computing, wireless communication, sensing and visualization technologies, we aim to create a system that will protect lives and livelihoods in areas that are vulnerable to natural disasters.”

The NCFS atmospheric and hydrologic model ingests real-time North Carolina data to output storm and flooding forecasts at an unprecedented 4-kilometer resolution—about nine times the resolution of a National Weather Service Forecast. The system will be demonstrated at SC06 on a high-resolution visualization wall consisting of nine 23-inch Dell displays.

Another demonstration will show how the ADCIRC coastal circulation and storm surge model has been adapted to run in a distributed grid environment. Development of the grid interface for ADCIRC is part of RENCI’s work with the SCOOP program. SCOOP is developing an open-access grid environment for the southeastern U.S. coastal zone that will integrate regional coastal observing and modeling systems. The LEAD project demonstration will showcase RENCI’s role in creating a virtual grid environment for mesoscale weather research. Other demonstrations will include:

  • An overview of the components and architecture of the RENCI/TeraGrid Bioportal, including the role of the Bioportal in TeraGrid’s Science Gateway projects. The demonstration will include information on how to use the portal and submit jobs to TeraGrid and North Carolina resources, and information about workflow environments that are continually being added to the Bioportal.
  • In a related presentation, RENCI researchers will illustrate several new workflows designed to simplify biological problem solving. One workflow allows researchers to create simulated genotype datasets used in creating disease models. Another allows them to dynamically query protein interaction and gene expression databases used in studying DNA repair system responses.
  • RENCI and Rice University researchers will report on work related to scalability in capturing and managing performance data on very large parallel systems. They also will discuss strategies for analyzing that data to diagnose and solve problems. Methods used include signal compression and adaptive statistical sampling and clustering. Scalable performance measurement methods for future systems also will be discussed.
  • RENCI will introduce its new outreach vehicles, called ROVER (RENCI Outreach Vehicles for Education and Research). ROVER will demonstrate how wireless communications and cutting-edge technologies can assist in disaster response and informal education. The initial ROVER will be a custom built truck equipped with a mobile wireless network activated by a retractable helium balloon, a satellite dish and a remote-controlled helicopter for search and rescue missions. Additional ROVERs will be custom-modified vans equipped with next-generation technologies for informal education and economic development efforts.

The complete schedule of demonstrations in the RENCI booth is available here.

For a list of other SC06 activities that will involve RENCI staff, click here.

RENCI, Catalyst for Innovation
RENCI brings together computer and discipline scientists, artists, humanists, industry leaders, entrepreneurs, state leaders and educators for collaborations designed to reshape science, the economy, the state of North Carolina and the world. RENCI leverages its expertise and resources in leading edge computing, networking and data technologies to ignite innovation and find solutions to previously intractable problems. Founded in 2004 as a major collaborative venture of Duke University, North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the state of North Carolina, RENCI is a statewide virtual organization.  For more, see