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May 1, 2012

USU participates in CI-WATER project

Utah State University researchers are participating in the CI-WATER project, a partnership among USU, the University of Wyoming, Brigham Young University, the University of Utah.

The project is supported by the NSF EPSCoR program to develop high performance computer (HPC) modeling and data storage infrastructure (cyberinfrastructure) to simulate and examine how factors such as population growth, shifting land uses and climate variability impact water storage and availability in the Intermountain West.

The members of the team from USU include David Tarboton, Jeffery Horsburgh and David Rosenberg and all faculty in the Utah Water Research Laboratory as well as Civil and Environmental Engineering.

According to David Tarboton, USU professor of civil and environmental engineering, this project has four goals. They include enhancing cyberinfrastructure facilities, enhancing access to data and computational intensive modeling, advancing high resolution multi-physics watershed modeling and promoting STEM learning and water science engagement.

“A goal of EPSCoR is to build capability and stimulate collaboration and interdisciplinary work, so USU will be participating in tasks related to all these goals,” said Tarboton. “However, USU's primary responsibility is the enhancement of access to data and computationally intensive modeling. This builds on our experience in developing the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science Inc.'s server platform for the publication of hydrologic data.”

The project is a three-year $6 million project of which $900,000 comes to USU. This will support the establishment of a development server for prototyping data system capability before it is deployed operationally at the University of Utah Data Center with high speed links to the Wyoming Supercomputer. USU funds will also support graduate students and programmers for the development of the data and computing systems needed.

As part of the CI-Water project, easy-to-use model and data interfaces that link integrated water system models running within an HPC environment to multiple data sources will be developed. The team intends to make it easier for non-HPC experts to take advantage of HPC systems by establishing easy to use web-based interfaces to configure and execute models on HPC systems and support collaboration around these models.

Also, data system capabilities will be extended to additional hydrologic, geophysical, socioeconomic and legal water rights data needed to run water resource models that reflect the developed and engineered nature of hydrologic systems in the West.

“One aspect of the vision is to reduce the complexity barriers in using supercomputers and stimulating researchers who have not been able to access or use supercomputers to think creatively about how the data-intensive capability they provide can enhance their science,” said Tarboton. “By partnering with the University of Wyoming, we hope to facilitate and ease USU researcher access to HPC capability being established in Wyoming.”

- Nadiah Johari