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Climate100: Scaling the Earth System Grid to 100 Gbps Networks

The climate community faces a rising tide of data as high performance computing enters the petascale era and more sophisticated Earth system models provide greater scientific utility. With many extraordinarily large data warehouses located globally, researchers will depend heavily on high performance networks to access distributed data, information, models, analysis and visualization tools, and computational resources. In this highly collaborative decentralized problem-solving environment, a faster network—on the order of 10 to 100 times faster than what exists today—will be needed to deliver data to scientists when they need it and to permit comparison and combination of large (sometimes 100s of TB) datasets generated at different locations. These goals cannot be achieved using today’s 10 Gigabit per second (Gbps) networks. Therefore we need to ensure the ESG architecture scales to the next generation network speeds of 100 Gbps and ultimately beyond. Climate100 will integrate massive climate datasets, emerging 100 Gbps networks, and state-of-the-art data transport and management technologies to enable realistic at-scale experimentation with climate data management, transport, and analysis in a 100 Gbps, 100 Petabyte world.


Based on current growth rates, the climate community presents a real need for networks far faster than those available today—both now and in the future. Climate model data is projected to exceed hundreds of exabytes (1 EB = 10^18 bytes) by 2020 [BESNetwork2007]. To provide the international climate community with convenient access to these data and to maximize scientific productivity, these data need to be replicated and cached at multiple locations around the world [ExtremeScale2009]. Unfortunately, establishing and managing a distributed data system presents several significant challenges not only to system architectures and application development, but also to the existing wide area and campus networking infrastructures.

The Internet has always been an integral part of the climate community. Connecting people, organizations, bureaucracies, government agencies and academia, the Internet has been used mainly for communication and coordination, with the occasional need to transfer large amounts of data for specific research and investigations. More recently, with the advent of Grid computing, the climate community has adopted a distributed computing approach to investigating climate change. Supercomputers run large complex climate models, store and catalog output data to long- or short-term storage in place, then grant remote users secure access to data and climate resources, either through a web browser or a specific climate application [BAMS2009]. While compute servers in this Grid environment can lessen the need for network traffic to end user sites by doing data reduction and data manipulation computers before transferring data, there is still a frequent need to move vast amounts of data to and from sites for scientific purposes. Models are run wherever there is available computer time, and those locations may not be the right places for long-term storage. Increasingly, climate scientists want to perform ensemble simulations, in which multiple copies of the same model are run and then intercompared, for example to develop regionally resolved probability distribution functions (PDFs) for climate outputs such as precipitation and temperature. Frequently, these simulations will be performed at different locations, in which case the various datasets must be brought together for comparison. Another frequent reason for needing to move datasets is to perform model intercomparisons. During the fourth IPCC assessment (AR4), intercomparisons were facilitated by bringing designated model output to the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI) [BAMS2009]. Such a centralized approach will no longer be possible in the future, due to the vast data sets that will be produced by the next generation of climate models. Continued exponential growth in data volumes and an increasingly distributed set of data producers and data consumers mean that the climate community’s network needs will remain strong now and in the future. We propose the Climate100 project with the goal of ensuring that this community is ready to deal with 100+ PB data and 100+ Gbps networks. Integrating the latest networks, computer systems, datasets, and software technologies, Climate100 will enable at-scale experimentation and analysis of data transport and Internet use for peta- and exascale data. The results of this work will improve understanding of network technologies and the climate community to transition to a 100 Gbps network for production and research.

Climate100 brings together participants from three areas: applications, infrastructure, and middleware/network research.

In the application area, Climate100 will include the active participation of ESG-CET to ensure that testbed and technology development activities focus on the specific needs of the climate community. ESG-CET will participate in the following areas:

In the infrastructure area, Climate100 will also include the active participation of ESnet, who will provide the 100 Gbps network used for experimentation, and collaborate with Climate100 researchers to ensure that instrumentation required for effective end-to-end transfers is available.

Finally, Climate100 will include middleware and network researchers. Once end-to-end 100 Gbps connectivity has been provided, the effective use of that network connectivity for climate science is a middleware and network problem.