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Energy Department Providing Additional Supercomputing Resources to Study Hurricane Effects on Gulf Coast

July 16, 2006

Media Contact:
Jeff Sherwood (DOE), (202) 586-5806
Jon Bashor (NERSC), (510) 486-5849

WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced today that the Office of Science has provided an additional 400,000 supercomputing processor-hours to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to simulate Gulf Coast hurricanes. The allocation brings the amount of computational time provided by DOE on supercomputers at its National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) in California to 800,000 processor-hours.

“I’m proud that our computing resources at NERSC can be used to create simulations that will help save lives, reduce property loss and protect the environment when hurricanes strike the Gulf Coast,” Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman said. “The Department is prepared to provide as much additional time, support, and collaboration on software as needed during the current hurricane season.”

From the initial simulations, the Corps computed draft storm stage-frequency curves for the critical five-parish area of Louisiana surrounding New Orleans and the Lower Mississippi River. With the expanded allocation, the Corps will perform simulations for the Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas coast lines. This will allow researchers to produce more accurate models for calculating the effects of future hurricanes. FEMA will study the simulations to develop new flood maps for the state of Louisiana and to support other aspects of the Gulf Hurricane Protection Projects.

Running the 400,000 hours of simulations on a single-processor PC would take about 46 years. Running the code on a small supercomputer, with 128 processors, would take about 130 days. But by tapping NERSC’s supercomputers, which include a 6,080-processor IBM supercomputer, an 888-processor IBM cluster computer, and a 720-processor Linux Networx cluster, the simulations can be completed much faster.

In addition to providing computing time on its supercomputers, NERSC will provide dedicated technical staff expertise to the project. NERSC, which has been the DOE Office of Science’s flagship center for unclassified supercomputing for more than 30 years, is managed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif.

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the nation and helps ensure U.S. world leadership across a broad range of scientific disciplines. The Office of Science supports a diverse portfolio of research at more than 300 colleges and universities nationwide, manages 10 world-class national laboratories with unmatched capabilities for solving complex interdisciplinary scientific problems, and builds and operates the world’s finest suite of scientific facilities and instruments used annually by more than 19,000 researchers to extend the frontiers of all areas of science.

For more information about the NERSC Center, go to

For more information on the Corps of Engineers, go to

About NERSC and Berkeley Lab
The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility that serves as the primary high performance computing center for scientific research sponsored by the Office of Science. Located at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, NERSC serves almost 10,000 scientists at national laboratories and universities researching a wide range of problems in climate, fusion energy, materials science, physics, chemistry, computational biology, and other disciplines. Berkeley Lab is a DOE national laboratory located in Berkeley, California. It conducts unclassified scientific research and is managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy. »Learn more about computing sciences at Berkeley Lab.