NRL SSC Leads New Battlespace Environments Institute


5/31/2005 - 32-05r
Contact: Public Affairs Office, (202) 767-2541


The Naval Research Laboratory, along with its partners, is leading the Battlespace Environments Institute (BEI), a newly established national effort to achieve full coupling of environmental models to best analyze and predict the total battlespace environment. BEI is a High Performance Applications Software Institute (HSAI) sponsored by the Department of Defense (DoD) High Performance Computing Modernization Program (HPCMP). The establishment of the BEI connects DoD to the Earth Systems Modeling Framework (ESMF) community resulting in broad civilian/DoD cross-service, cross-agency collaborations, and the transfer of new model applications to support DoD and civilian areas and interests.

The BEI mission supports the HPCMP's Computational Technology Areas of Climate/Weather/Ocean Modeling and Simulation (CWO) and Environmental Quality Modeling and Simulation (EQM). Configuration control and documentation standards of all BEI code and applications will be overseen by Naval Research Laboratory Stennis Space Center, Mississippi. (NRL SSC). Other participating organizations include the Naval Research Laboratory in Monterey (NRL MRY), California, the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) in Vicksburg, Mississippi, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA). BEI is one of five HSAI's established during FY05, the others being the Institute for Maneuverability and Terrain Physics Simulation, Biotechnology HSAI for Force Health Protection, Institute for HPC Applications to Air Armament, and HPC Software Applications Institute for Space Situation Awareness.

One of the factors leading to the formation of the Institute is a joint service need to produce an integrated air/sea/land/space - whole earth - product for the Department of Defense. "The agencies need a framework and common utilities to be able to talk to each other," said Steve Payne, Institute Director. BEI will provide that framework.

BEI goals are to facilitate the integration of DoD environmental modeling capabilities into a seamless, whole-earth common modeling infrastructure allowing the civilian and DoD intra-service development of multiple, mission-specific environmental simulations; and to support battlefield decisions, improve interoperability, reduce operating costs, and streamline the transition of cutting-edge environmental technologies from research into DoD operations. To accomplish this, BEI will use the Earth System Modeling Framework (ESMF), funded through NASA, and developed at NCAR, as an "enabling technology" to develop this whole-earth system, bring in DoD as a partner to the ESMF, and transition non-DoD ESMF applications to DoD, and DoD ESMF applications to the civilian sector.

To reach these goals, the Institute will adopt ESMF standards and demonstrate them in DoD modeling systems. In addition, the BEI will ensure the modeling systems are configuration controlled, fully documented, and promulgate ESMF enhancements and new capabilities for DoD through the BEI to other agencies and the research community. During the initial years of the BEI, DoD anticipates, as do other civilian agencies, an increase in environmental modeling R&D projects that utilize the whole-earth environment. As this whole-earth research matures, there should be demonstrable evidence that these coupled applications and/or systems are being transitioned into operations. A successful application will assemble a long-term scientific validation of a coupled system with full compliance to relevant ESMF standards within a 3- to 6-year time frame.

The Institute met for its kickoff meeting in January 2005 at NRL-SSC to discuss a plan for working together, to define individual goals, and to determine how to put the individual pieces into the whole-earth infrastructure. Richard Allard, BEI Project Leader, views BEI as a virtual institute, located country-wide. "We want to establish a whole-earth infrastructure," said Mr. Allard. "We need to show that the ESMF approach to numerical modeling of the atmosphere, ocean, land and space, and development of coupled applications such as atmosphere-ocean-ice, will provide more accurate information to the warfighter, and provide cost savings to DoD with a unified infrastructure".

Along with Mr. Payne and Mr. Allard, NRL-SSC brings in Dr. Alan Wallcraft, Chief Scientist; Mrs. Lucy Smedstad, BEI Information Systems Coordinator; and Dr. Timothy Campbell, a newly hired NRL employee who will be porting numerical ocean codes into the ESMF superstructure and developing advanced coupled applications for DoD.

NCAR hopes to gain from their participation in the BEI as an expansion of the scope of the ESMF framework. According to Cecelia DeLuca, the manager of the ESMF implementation team, "the BEI brings in vital new applications and capabilities to the ESMF, enabling us to build better infrastructure for supporting integrated earth modeling systems, and to create a coordinated nationwide modeling community."

ERDC will begin their work by migrating their Environmental Quality Modeling (EQM) software into the ESMF. Dr. Hwai-Ping (Pearce) Cheng, the Project Manager of the ERDC Technical Team, explained how the watershed model WASH123D will be migrated after an unstructured grid capability is available in ESMF. NRL and ERDC will develop coupled applications beneficial to both the Army and Navy, such as a riverine application.

AFWA will focus on their space weather mission to provide accurate, relevant and timely space weather information to DoD, coalition, and national users. Dr. Jerry Wegiel, BEI AFWA Technical Lead presented plans to couple ESMF versions of the Hakamada-Akasofu-Fry kinematic solar wind model and Global Assimilation of Ionospheric Measurements models to provide DoD with the ability to extend the forecast lead time of the arrival of a shock in the solar wind, created by a coronal mass ejection at the sun, from 1 hour to 1-3 days.

According to Dr. Rich Hodur, BEI Technical Lead for NRL-MRY, their goal is to integrate state-of-the-art atmosphere-ocean modeling capabilities using superstructure and infrastructure standards to support general interfaces between and within the models. To do this, they will utilize the ESMF superstructure to couple the atmosphere and ocean models in the Coupled Ocean/Atmosphere Mesoscale Prediction System (COAMPS®1), as well as incorporate components of, and assist in further developing/modifying the Weather Research and Forecast infrastructure for use within the COAMPS atmospheric model. NRL- MRY goals, within BEI, are to include two-way coupling in COAMPS, allow for the replacement and/or addition of other models (e.g., wave model) to COAMPS, allow for interchangeable physical parameterizations to be used in the COAMPS atmospheric model, and allow for data to be used from a selection of models for COAMPS initial and/or lateral boundary conditions.

A board of directors was established to provide strategic guidance to senior management of the BEI. Responsibilities include assessing the impact of the Institute's modeling and simulation actions on the local service organizational elements; appraising future investment strategies and priorities in development and sustainment of High Performance Computing (HPC) applications software, training in state-of-the-art HPC technologies, and connectivity in the HPC community; identifying and guiding development of modeling and simulation opportunities for evolving DoD requirements within their service; and participating in Institute reviews. The members of the BEI Board of Directors are Dr. Cray Henry, HPCMP Office; Dr. Eric Hartwig, NRL DC; Dr. Alasdair Kellie, NCAR; Mr. Michael Howland, AFWA; Mr. Edward Gough, Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command; and Mr. Thomas Richardson, ERDC.

Among the annual goals for FY05 are for NCAR to create an unstructured grid type and associated methods, and to provide ESMF training and support. NRL-SSC, NRL MRY, AFWA, and ERDC will begin porting codes to ESMF and generating software development plans for initial coupling tests.

1 COAMPS® is a registered trademark of the Naval Research Laboratory

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