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NSF Funds University of Miami Climate and 'Cloud Computing' Research

Press Release

Location: Miami

The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced that it has awarded the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science a grant for the application of the latest cloud computing technologies to climate and natural hazards research. Drs. Craig Mattocks and Brian Soden will serve as Principal Investigators on the project, which will create a pipeline of ensemble climate simulations to provide critical information on storm strength and the impact of storm surge on coastal communities. Eventually, the advancements made will be transferred to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to enhance the performance of the Sea, Lake and Overland Surges from Hurricanes (SLOSH) model for operational use in predicting storm surge generated by hurricanes and tropical storms.

"The students and faculty of the Rosenstiel School are internationally recognized as a leaders in marine science research. From ocean conservation, oceans and human health, sustainable fisheries, coral ecology, and marine genomics their work has tremendous benefits for all Floridians, in fact, for all people in coastal communities in the United States," said U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. "This grant will help improve environmental and storm modeling by making the latest data sets easily accessible to the broader scientific community as well as strengthening tools for the application of that data. With hurricane season just around the corner, it is encouraging to see increased efforts to use computationally driven research to positively serve our community. I look forward to seeing the long term results of this significant project."

Cloud computing offers unparalleled access to data on demand, and provides a cost-effective manner in which to port code to a new platform. This new method of computation also makes it simpler to make data sets available to the broader community, and helps make harvesting metadata more efficient. In addition, the research team will contribute tools to help scientists share, preserve, publicize and establish the provenance of the scientific data sets that result from their research.

"Compelling and timely application of climate research is our overall goal," said Soden. "One of the more immediate and dangerous impacts of climate change in South Florida will be rising sea levels. Even with no change in hurricane strength or numbers, increased storm surge from rising sea level could pose a serious threat to property and lives in South Florida."

This NSF-funded project develops a pipeline framework for running ensemble simulations on the cloud. The pipeline will take data submissions and organize them into controlled batches. It will also create an optimal workflow and establish best practices in data sharing and discovery.

"Our work will provide data to assess societal responses and guide adaptations to climate change," added Mattocks, "These calculations will assist us in planning and building the sustainable, hazard-resilient coastal communities of the future."

Climate modelers at UM will be collaborating with Jamie Rhome and Dr. Cristina Forbes in the Storm Surge Unit at NOAA's National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami, Fla. and Arthur Taylor at NOAA's Meteorological Development Laboratory in Silver Spring, Md. to assimilate the new knowledge in NOAA's SLOSH program, as well as in research, operational and classroom settings.

The University of Miami is the largest private research institution in the southeastern United States. The University's mission is to provide quality education, attract and retain outstanding students, support the faculty and their research, and build an endowment for University initiatives. Founded in the 1940s, the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science has grown into one of the world's premier marine and atmospheric research institutions. Offering dynamic interdisciplinary academics, the Rosenstiel School is dedicated to helping communities to better understand the planet, participating in the establishment of environmental policies, and aiding in the improvement of society and quality of life. For more information, please visit

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