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UNC computer, marine scientists collaborate to predict flow of toxic waters from Katrina

lina's 2005-06 budget includes $5.9 million in new funding for RENCI, a collaboration of UNC, Duke and NC State that is based on the Chapel Hill campus and run by Reed. RENCI is slated to receive $11.8 million in recurring funding thereafter.

"If we had a month to do these runs, we could do them on our desktop computers or on a small cluster, but to do it literally overnight requires some horsepower," Blanton said.

Reed, former director of NCSA, connected Blanton and Leuttich with NCSA, the National Science Foundation-supported supercomputing center located at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Using NCSA's Xeon system, a state-of-the-art parallel computer called Tungsten, the researchers were able to complete the required computational runs in about 15 hours, from midnight on Sept. 11 to mid-afternoon on Sept. 12.

"This is a prelude to the capabilities RENCI and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will provide to North Carolina, as we deploy our own large-scale computing infrastructure and continue to build disaster-response collaborations with North Carolina experts," Reed said. "With state support, we are now building world-class capability for interdisciplinary research, technology transfer, economic development and engagement across North Carolina."

Researchers at CSDL, with assistance from Luettich and Blanton, are working to integrate information provided by the computational calculations with NOAA's North American Mesoscale Model, the primary weather forecasting model used by the National Weather Service, to simulate wind speed, direction and other weather factors. Their goal is to provide daily forecasts of coastal circulation and pollutant concentrations in the Katrina-affected region, information that will be vital as cleanup efforts and recovery continue.

The two also have extended their work with RENCI, Reed and colleagues to analyze various aspects of last weekend's Hurricane Rita and its
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Source:University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


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