NOAA shifts computational work to ORNL via Recovery Act funds

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The Knoxville News Sentinel ran a story yesterday on the recent decision by NOAA to outsource some of its computational work to the government’s HPC powerhouse, the DoE in the person of the computing facilities at Oak Ridge National Lab

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will provide $215 million to Oak Ridge National Laboratory over the next five years to support climate research, further bolstering ORNL’s role as a U.S. hub for broad-based work on global climate change.

Thomas Zacharia, ORNL’s deputy lab director for science and technology, said Oak Ridge is becoming a go-to place where agencies engaged in climate studies can work together to leverage their assets and get the most out of their resources.

NOAA will be using ORNL’s computers, but Oak Ridge will also be growing computational staff to better support the expanded mission. And bonus: if you are following the ARRA’s impact on HPC, you just found another item for your bingo card

The new agreement between NOAA and the Department of Energy already has provided $73.5 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money to ORNL, with similar amounts to follow over the next four years, he said. The lab expects to hire 25 to 50 additional climate researchers as part of the expanded effort, he said.

I actually think this kind of shift makes sense. It is extremely difficult in the federal government to get the funds and approvals (which extend all the way to the requirement for a literal act of Congress in some cases) to maintain large scale compute infrastructure. If the infrastructure itself isn’t part of an agency’s core mission then paying someone else to run it for you may make good sense. This is a logical first step on the path toward hosted computing, since it keeps the data and apps within the federal government at least. Hat tip to HPCwire for the link.


  1. […] It seems the next phase of NOAA’s computational business will be less hands on as they outsource at least some of their heavy computations to the DOE.AKPC_IDS += "7009,"; Posted in New […]