Update on Pilot Lab Exascale Earth System Modelling

Since 2019, around 30 scientists from 8 Helmholtz Centres have been working together to create Earth System Models (ESMs) that are fit for the next generation of supercomputers, i.e. ready for exascale. Recently, Martin Schultz from JSC, the coordinator of the Pilot Lab Exascale Earth System Modelling (PL-ExaESM), presented the background and rationale of this project and some recent results at the Center for Earth System Observation and Computational Analysis (CESOC). CESOC was established in 2021 to strengthen collaboration between Earth System scientists and computer scientists in the Rhineland region and to support Germany’s successful bid to become a new host of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). ECMWF pioneered a technology-oriented perspective on ESM development with its scalability programme, and this work has led to a European Centre of Excellence (ESiWACE) and a series of projects (ESCAPE). With PL-ExaESM, the Helmholtz Association has joined forces and strengthened the connection with leading ESM developers in Europe.

The underlying concern of PL-ExaESM is the observation that new supercomputer technologies present a disruptive change to more specialized and diverse computing and storage components. While scientific progress with ESMs in the past partly relied on the exponential growth of supercomputing resources due to miniaturization (Moore’s law), it is no longer possible to simply run existing code on more processors. Instead, fundamentally new concepts must be developed to exploit the capabilities of accelerators such as GPUs and to optimize workflows and storage concepts. Furthermore, new algorithms and the embedding of machine learning techniques in ESM models and ESM output post-processing need to be explored. As ESM code represents some of the largest and most complex supercomputing applications, the analysis of ESM requirements and bottlenecks can also help in designing the supercomputing architectures of the future. PL-ExaESM has made substantial progress in all of these areas and has helped to build a new community of interdisciplinary researchers who will create the next generation of ESMs with enhanced resolution, better representations of physical processes, and a better user experience, thus contributing even more to the solving of society’s grand challenges.

The PL-ExaESM project, which is funded by the Helmholtz Initiative and Networking Fund, runs until September 2022. Its main activities will then be continued under the umbrella of a Joint Lab. For further information, please visit https://www.exaesm.de/.

Contact: Dr. Martin Schultz

from JSC News No. 286, 7 February 2022

Last Modified: 05.07.2022