Getting Cirrus About Collaboration
A common software framework, being spearheaded by the National Center for Atmospheric Research, will improve the ability of weather researchers to collaborate on prediction models.
The nation's top climate and weather modeling centers have embarked on an ambitious software-collaboration effort designed to provide better predictions and more efficient use of the centers' IT resources. The National Center for Atmospheric Research is spearheading the creation of a common software framework that will let researchers from different centers easily exchange information and assimilate data into models. The three-year project recently received a $9.8 million grant from NASA and will involve nine modeling centers across the country. "This collaboration is unprecedented in its scope," says NCAR's Cecelia DeLuca, one of the project's three technical managers.
A key driver for the project is the need for software reuse. There's too much redundancy in the tools and technical software developed by modeling centers, creating a significant resource drain, DeLuca says. "We aren't funded at the level of the military, so developing a core body of software that everyone can use and maintain collectively is very important for us."
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Interoperability is critical for researchers to effectively use information from a variety of scientific sources and observational instruments. Many centers developed their own local software frameworks in-house. That makes it difficult for researchers at one center to connect models with another's system, such as coupling an ocean model with an atmospheric model, and it also hampers researchers' ability to build, validate, and evolve models. Says DeLuca, "We're hoping to provide a level of interoperability that will facilitate all those things."