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Visualization facilitates data exploration. It often supports simulation since it allows inspection of the output varying in time or with changes in parameter values, or for the locations of interesting regions in large data sets. The term visualization often is used to describe the rendering of 3D isosurfaces and volumes, whereas the term graphics usually is applied to plots such as scatter plots and histograms.

Our mission is to assist researchers in achieving their scientific goals – solving some of the world's most challenging problems in scientific data understanding – through visualization and analytics while simultaneously advancing the state-of-the-art in visualization through our own research. From the standpoint of a user of NERSC, for example, the Visualization Group provides the expertise and the software and hardware resources necessary to allow that user to visualize his or her data without having to invest the significant amount of time required to learn about visualization tools and techniques. We also make our software and hardware resources available to more experienced or adventurous users to allow them to explore their data at their own pace.

Quick Link: NERSC Visualization Applications and Graphics Libraries


Visualizing Type Ia Supernova Explosions

Deep inside a dying star in a galaxy far, far away, a carbon fusion flame ignites. Ignition may happen in the middle or displaced slightly to one side, but this simulation explores the consequences of central ignition. In a localized hot spot, represented here by a deformed sphere with an average radius of 100 km, carbon is assumed to have already fused to iron, producing hot ash (~10 billion K) with a density about 20% less than its surroundings. As the burning progresses, this hot… Read More »


Visualizing Storms from NCAR's Atmosphere Model

Global warming will likely change the statistics of tropical cyclones and hurricanes. In this high resolution simulation, using the finite volume version of NCAR's Community Atmosphere Model, we are studying how well the model can reproduced observed tropical cyclone statistics. The simulated storms seen in this animation are generated spontaneously from the model's simulated weather conditions long after the memory of initial conditions have been forgotten. The structure of these simulated… Read More »


Buoyant Burning Bubbles in Type Ia Supernovae

Flame ignition in type Ia supernovae leads to isolated bubbles of burning buoyant fluid. As a bubble rises due to gravity, it becomes deformed by shear instabilities and transitions to turbulent evolution. This simulation shows the temperature field of such a bubble burning in a uniform background. The simulation was conducted using a specialized low Mach number hydrodynamics code for thermonuclear flames. Adaptive mesh refinement was used to focus resolution on the bubble, reducing… Read More »


Jablonowski test case on geodesic grid

Accurate modeling of Earth's climate is one of the biggest challenges facing HPC today. One of the largest sources of error in existing climate models is the simulation of clouds. By increasing the grid resolution from 200 km to 2 km, clouds can be accurately resolved in simulations. Current latitude/longitude-based decompositions do not scale to these high resolutions, thus alternative discretizations, such as the icosahedral mesh must be used. The demo illustrates the Jablonowski test case… Read More »


Hybrid Parallelism for Volume Rendering at Large Scale

We studied the performance and scalability characteristics of ``hybrid'' parallel programming and execution as applied to raycasting volume rendering — a staple visualization algorithm — on a large, multi-core platform. Our findings indicated that the hybrid-parallel implementation, at levels of concurrency ranging from 1,728 to 216,000, performs better, uses a smaller absolute memory footprint, and consumes less communication bandwidth than the traditional, MPI-only implementation. (More… Read More »


Visualization of Microearthquake Data from Enhanced Geothermal Systems

We are working with geophysicists in the Earth Sciences Division (ESD) at LBNL to generate 3D visualizations of microearthquake data from geothermal sites. The importance of this work is that it provides the means for the geothermal site operators - and the public - to see where microearthquakes are occurring as geothermal energy is produced at a site. The 3D visualizations are being made available via a Web site hosted by the ESD. More… Read More »


Particle-in-Cell Simulation of Laser Wakefield Particle Acceleration

Experiments with laser wakefield accelerators (LWFA) have demonstrated accelerating gradients thousands of times greater than those obtained in conventional particle accelerators. LWFAs use the electric field of a plasma wave - the wakefield - driven by the radiation pressure of an intense laser. The simulations proposed in this study will interpret recent experiments and assist in the planning of the next generation of particle accelerators and ultrafast applications in chemistry and biology. Read More »


Magneto-Rotational Instability and Turbulent Angular Momentum Transport

In space, gases and other matter often form swirling disks around attracting central objects such as newly formed stars. The presence of magnetic fields can cause the disks to become unstable and develop turbulence, causing the disk material to fall onto the central object. This project will carry out large-scale simulations to test theories on how turbulence can develop in such a scenario. These simulations may provide insights into magnetically caused instabilities being studied on a smaller… Read More »


Quantum Monte Carlo Study of Photoprotection via Carotenoids in Photosynthetic Centers

The goal of this project is to increase understanding of the complex processes that occur during photosynthesis. Photosynthesis, which is an efficient energy transfer system, is an example of fundamental electron chemistry. The QMC method was used to solve the Schrodinger equation and produced datasets of walkers for the electron density of carotenoid molecules. Each walker is a snapshot of the configuration of the 3N electronic coordinates, where N is the number of electrons. The image to the… Read More »