Giant smart tablet for eScience

Nieuws | de redactie
23 oktober 2012 | Data-driven research across multiple disciplines and sites? It’s not a dream anymore. The Netherlands eScience Center did an interactive session on climatology with Los Alamos, South Africa and Amsterdam in Chicago. A 'Collaboratorium' of interactive visuals is its secret.

NLeSC, in collaboration with the Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht (IMAU) and SARA, demonstrated the potential for undertaking data-driven research across multiple-disciplines and multiple-sites at the recent GLIF conference in Chicago. eScience integrator Prof. Henk Dijkstra of IMAU led an interactive demonstration focused on his use of eScience approaches in climatology research.

He participated from a video conferencing suite in South Africa in partnership with Maarten van Meersbergen (NLeSC) and Michael Kliphuis (IMAU) at the NLeSC-SARA “Collaboratorium” in Amsterdam and Frank Seinstra (NLeSC), Paul Wielinga and Tijs de Kler (SARA) at the EVL in Chicago.

A huge smart tablet

The Collaboratorium is a joint initiative by SARA and the Netherlands eScience Center (NLeSC). It is nominated for the AV Awards 2012 in the category ‘Collaborative Communications Project of the Year’. This advanced and very practical visualization room is a key element in collaborative activities, and real-time and improvised experiments in eScience. By visualizing large data sets and by combining multiple data sources, scientific discussions are enabled and new insights may be born.

The Collaboratorium consists of a video wall equipped with 4×2 Full HD screens with a total resolution of 7.680 x 2.160 pixels (16.6 MegaPixel). In combination with the multi-touch overlay this creates a gigantic smart tablet. The interactive room provides excellent opportunitiesto strengthen (informal) working relationships and technology transfer between science, governments and industry.

This eScience experiment from the Windy City demonstrated the importance of collaboration across disciplines and organisations for modern research, and the need for infrastructures to facilitate these interactions. As climate modeling is an international science, a remote collaboration and visualization environment is essential for leading climate researchers worldwide to discuss breakthrough simulation results as soon as they become available.

Making climate change data visible

Climate researchers from IMAU and Los Alamos located in North America, Africa, and Europe discuss results of recent simulations by using this visualization tool for climate data, combined with video conferencing technologies and using SAGE middleware to share the visual data. The demonstration aims to show the importance of having state-of-the-art networking and visualization infrastructures available for collaboration between leading (climate) researchers, and for enhancing and speeding up the overall process of scientific discovery.

In this demonstration in Chicago the researchers analyzed data from a simulation with a strongly eddying version of a global ocean circulation model (the Parallel Ocean Program). The specific 50-year simulation is concerned with the response of the Atlantic Ocean circulation to a relatively large freshwater perturbation which is applied near Greenland to mimic the effect of the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet. The spreading of the freshwater anomaly changes the convection intensity in the polar seas, the pattern and strength of the Gulf Stream, and leads to changes in the surface temperature (and hence climate).

The scientists in the Netherlands, South Africa, and the US used globally distributed resources to discuss simulation results, precomputed and stored in Amsterdam. The visualization was rendered in real time in Amsterdam (SARA) and shown in the Collaboratorium. The visual output was also streamed to the Cyber-Commons SAGE wall at EVL in Chicago over a 10G transatlantic lightpath. Video conferencing technologies were used between the three locations.

The visualization tool used for the discussion is based on the eSight library developed by the Netherlands eScience Center (NLeSC). The tool allows climate researchersto compare many model parameters at  once (e.g. temperature, salinity, surface height), using several interactive views of the Earth.

Find more at SARA, IMAU and the Netherlands eSciencecenter

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