BOULDER — The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and its managing organization, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), announced today that they will form a partnership with the University of Wyoming, the State of Wyoming, and the University of Colorado at Boulder to build a new supercomputing data center for scientific research in Cheyenne. The center will house some of the world’s most powerful supercomputers in order to advance understanding of climate, weather, and other Earth and atmospheric processes. The new partnership is contingent on approval from the National Science Foundation, which is NCAR’s principal sponsor, as well as from the Wyoming legislature.

Construction of the $60 million data center for the geosciences will begin this year, once funding and other approvals are completed. The center will open in late 2010 or early 2011. It will generate new collaborations between NCAR, the University of Wyoming, the University of Colorado, other Front Range institutions, and the rest of the research community.

“We are excited to work on this extraordinary project with our colleagues at the University of Wyoming and the University of Colorado to form new bridges of scientific inquiry,” says NCAR director Tim Killeen. “The data center project is a major step that will advance research in the geosciences and enable us to greatly improve our understanding of the world around us.”

Top officials in Wyoming who worked on creating the data center partnership include Gov. Dave Freudenthal, University of Wyoming president Tom Buchanan, and other government, university, and community leaders.

“Having an NCAR supercomputing facility in Wyoming will be transformative for the University of Wyoming, will represent a significant step forward in the state’s economic development, and will provide exceptional opportunities for NCAR to make positive contributions to the educational infrastructure of an entire state,” says William Gern, the university’s vice president for research and economic development.

The center’s supercomputers, which will be upgraded regularly, will initially achieve speeds of hundreds of teraflops (trillion floating-point operations per second).

NCAR considered partnerships with several universities along the Front Range of the Rockies, with the University of Wyoming and the University of Colorado in Boulder receiving particularly close scrutiny. Both universities held great appeal. In the end, NCAR chose to locate its new center in Wyoming after a rigorous evaluation, concluding that a partnership with Wyoming would facilitate getting the greatest computing capability for the regional and national scientific community at the earliest possible time.

“We felt fortunate to have such strong interest in this project,” Killeen says. “As a result, we feel confident that a new Front Range research collaboration, anchored by the University of Wyoming and with the collaboration of the University of Colorado at Boulder, will emerge that will allow this facility to be truly world-class.”

New academic and scientific partnerships with the University of Colorado and other Front Range universities, as well as with research universities nationally and internationally, will enable researchers to simulate complex Earth processes and tackle important problems in Earth systems science. For example, the increased computing capabilities may help lead to far more accurate forecasts of hurricanes, more detailed simulations of Earth’s climate, and greater understanding of solar storms that affect sensitive telecommunications systems and power grids.

“We believe this collaboration will provide our faculty and students with access to one of the world’s greatest computing resources,” says Chancellor G.P. “Bud” Peterson of the University of Colorado at Boulder. “It will help us make further advances in our understanding of how humankind interacts with, and is impacted by, the environment. Direct access to this resource will also enable us to pursue a greater computational research approach in many other fields of excellence at the University of Colorado at Boulder, such as energy, biotechnology, and space science.”

The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research under primary sponsorship by the National Science Foundation. Opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


David Hosansky, UCAR Media Relations

Richard Anthes, UCAR President

Jay Fromkin, University of Wyoming Public Relations