BOULDER–Scientists and engineers at the National Center for
Atmospheric Research (NCAR) are leaders in a national collaboration
to build a software framework that will take computer modeling of the
Earth’s weather and climate to the next level. The framework signals
a new era of coordination and cooperation among nine of the nation’s
top modeling centers.

NASA has awarded NCAR and its collaborators $9.8 million for
developing and deploying an Earth System Modeling Framework. NCAR
will receive $3.8 million of the award for developing the core
software for the framework. The framework will allow some of the
nation’s most widely used computer models of the Earth’s climate and
weather to work together and permit vast amounts of data collected by
observational instruments to be assimilated into the models. The
result will be more realistic simulations of weather and climate,
better use of real-world observational data, and, ultimately, more
accurate predictions.

“The new software framework will help scientists and engineers
develop and share the modern software components essential to
accelerated progress in modeling the Earth’s climate and weather
systems,” says NCAR director Tim Killeen, one of the three lead
scientists of the interlinked framework-building effort. “We’re
delighted to have this opportunity to work closely with colleagues
around the country.”

Working with those colleagues, six software engineers at NCAR will
spend the next three years building the core infrastructure, which
will offer integrated tools for communication among components, time
management, performance profiling, and other common functions.

“An application running on the framework will resemble a sandwich,”
says NCAR’s Cecelia DeLuca, one of the partnership’s three technical
managers. The bottom slice of bread is the infrastructure, providing
utilities and data structures that allow developers to build
applications more easily. The top slice is the superstructure–tools
for coupling that allow model components to work together. The
software written for specific modeling applications is the sandwich

Says Killeen, “The effort brings together computational scientists,
software engineers, and Earth scientists involved in weather and
climate modeling and data assimilation to create a shared scientific
tool that will provide a common infrastructure for computer modeling.
This unprecedented level of cooperation will make models
simultaneously easier to develop and more powerful.”

The Earth System Modeling Framework will handle all interconnections
among atmosphere, land, ocean, and other models coupled to form
larger environmental models. The framework will help improve the
fidelity and predictive capability of the models by making it much
simpler for researchers to compare alternative scientific approaches
from many different sources.

“This is the first step in a progression that will enable the
modeling community to use its resources more effectively and
ultimately produce better science to serve the nation’s needs,” says

The grant to NCAR is part of a three-year, $22.8 million project for
11 teams to develop advanced scientific software frameworks for high-
end computers. The Computational Technologies Project in NASA’s Earth
Science Technology Office is funding the project. NCAR’s primary
sponsor is the National Science Foundation.

On the Web: For project participants and background, see the Earth
System Modeling Framework site,, and

Visuals: A color image is available at Filenames: wrfimage.gif,
wrfimage2.gif, wrfimagecaption.txt.

Caption: This may look like satellite imagery of clouds, but it’s
a computer-generated forecast from the Weather Research and
Forecasting Model (WRF). Designed so researchers and daily weather
forecasters can exchange know-how and make continual improvements,
WRF is one of the applications slated to take advantage of the
Earth System Modeling Framework.