Phase 2 Scalability of Elliptic Solvers in Weather and Climate Modelling

Project: Research council

Project Details


Historically, major improvements in the accuracy of numerical weather forecasts and climate simulations have come from the increased resolution enabled by the exponential growth in computer power. In order to achieve further gains in accuracy through further increases in resolution, it will be necessary to exploit the massively parallel computer architectures that are becoming available. However, current state-of-the-art operational algorithms are not expected to perform well beyond a few thousand processors: the grid structure of the traditional latitude-longitude grid means that interprocessor communication eventually but inevitably becomes a bottleneck. The overall aim of the proposed project is to develop a new, three-dimensional, fully compressible dynamical core suitable for operational global and regional weather and climate prediction, as well as for research use, on massively parallel machines, and to demonstrate its accuracy, efficiency, and scalability. The accuracy should be comparable to that of existing state of the art algorithms. The algorithm must be efficient enough to run in the available operational time slots, and it must scale well on 100,000 to 1000,000 processors. Phase 1 of this project (Feb 2011 - Jan 2013) addressed several of the basic scientific questions that underpin the development, including choice of quasi-uniform horizontal grid, choice of horizontal discretization, choice of transport scheme, time integration scheme, and some of the computer science aspects of the project. Several candidate approaches were tested and evaluated in a simplified two-dimensional fluid system (the Shallow Water Equations), and a small number of promising approaches were identified for further development in Phase 2. Phase 2 of this project will build on the progress made in Phase 1 in order to develop a three-dimensional, fully compressible dynamical core. The work in Phase 2 falls broadly into three work packages: * Vertical aspects. The stability and accuracy of the discretization depends crucially on the choice of vertical coordinate, the choice of thermodynamic variables predicted, and the vertical placement of variables relative to each other (`staggering'). It will also depend on the details of how, for example, the pressure gradient term is evaluated, especially near steep mountains, and how the vertical discretization couples with the horizontal discretization. Building on current understanding, candidate schemes will be formulated and tested. * Code design and development. The code for the three-dimensional dynamical core will be based around a carefully designed software framework. The interface between the numerical discretization and its parallel implementation will be optimized, so that modifications to the former require minimal knowledge of the latter. The software framework will be highly flexible, so that it can easily accommodate future evolution of the dynamical core, such as changes in grid structure. * Testing. The behaviour of complex numerical algorithms can be difficult to predict theoretically, even when individual components are well understood and tested. It will be vital, therefore, to test comprehensively the proposed formulations at the earliest opportunity, and revise if necessary. Early testing will focus on the shallow water formulation arising out of Phase 1 of the project, and on one-dimensional (column) and two-dimensional (vertical slice) prototypes of the vertical formulation. Testing of the three-dimensional formulation will begin as soon as code is available.
Effective start/end date24/06/1330/06/16


  • Natural Environment Research Council