Supercomputers and super cool science

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29 September 2020

The Antarctic Science Platform is pleased to announce the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with New Zealand eScience Infrastructure (NeSI).

NeSI helps researchers tackle large or highly complex problems by designing, building, and operating a specialised platform of shared high-performance computing (HPC) infrastructure and a range of advanced research computing services. These technologies, alongside expertise, support, and training offered by NeSI, allows researchers to investigate scientific challenges that were previously impossible.

The Platform’s Modelling Hub fellows have already benefited from this technology resource. Other researchers are soon to follow suit.

Antarctic Science Platform Director Nancy Bertler says the Platform deeply values its access to this supercomputer resource.

“This partnership is critical for our future projections work. By having access to this world class supercomputing resource, our modellers are enabled to create ever improving forecasts that increase the resilience of New Zealanders and can guide how we best respond to climate change challenges.

“Our modelling hub covers a range of disciplines from ecological modelling to big data analysis. We hope that with the help of NeSI’s leading technology and expertise we can develop platforms to achieve a new paradigm shift where different models (such as ice sheet, ocean, atmosphere or sea ice models) can talk and inform each other.

“The collaborator organisations that championed NeSI from the beginning, The University of Auckland, NIWA, the University of Otago and Manaaki Whenua as well as MBIE, have paved the way for our Antarctic researchers to deliver excellent scientific outcomes,” she says.

NeSI Director Nick Jones acknowledges the HPC capabilities of NeSI’s collaborators are critical across a growing breadth of research in New Zealand, both within universities and CRIs, and more widely in Crown agencies and private industry.

"This is an exciting collaboration, enhancing the capabilities and support we offer to New Zealand's Antarctic science community.

"Our hoamahi in the modelling hub offer a great exemplar of a collaborative model of science - we’re seeing collaboration transform how science is done in New Zealand as we collectively address our most demanding challenges.

“As a collaboration itself NeSI welcomes such partnerships - whakawhanaungatanga, our work building shared understanding helps us connect with a research community's aspirations and goals. Together, we can then respond to their needs - be it related to computational power, data management, computational thinking, or other advanced digital research capabilities - and better equip their researchers to deliver new and valuable insights in their fields at both local and global scales," he says.

About the Antarctic Science Platform

The purpose of the Antarctic Science Platform is to conduct excellent science to understand Antarctica’s impact on the global earth system, and how this might change in a +2°C (Paris Agreement) world. The Platform supports four large-scale research projects that fall under two main Programmes; the Antarctic ice-ocean-atmosphere system in a warming world and Ross Sea Region ecosystem dynamics in a warming world. The Platform, hosted by Antarctica New Zealand, is funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment for $49 million over seven years.

About the New Zealand eScience Infrastructure

Driven by the needs of researchers for high-performance productivity, New Zealand eScience Infrastructure (NeSI) designs, builds, and operates a specialised platform of shared high performance computing (HPC) infrastructure and a range of advanced research computing services. NeSI’s collaborators – the University of Auckland, NIWA, the University of Otago, Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research – alongside the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE)’s SSIF Fund play an essential role in this national platform by investing in the infrastructure, employing NeSI team members at their institutions, and enabling NeSI to connect with and respond to the evolving needs of research communities. Together with MBIE, NeSI and its collaborators ensure computational research projects in New Zealand are backed by the power, expertise, and support necessary to make them a reality.