High-Resolution Space-Weather Model, 15-9146

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Principal Investigators
Geoffrey Crowley
Christopher J. Freitas

Inclusive Dates: 07/01/99 - 06/30/01

Background - The term 'space-weather' refers to conditions on the Sun, in the solar wind, magnetosphere, ionosphere, thermosphere, and mesosphere, that can influence the performance and reliability of space-borne and ground-based technological systems and can endanger human life or health. One goal of the National Space Weather Program is to produce weather forecasts for the entire region of space ranging from the sun to the Earth's middle atmosphere. Currently simpler models exist that can simulate individual parts of the system; however, the goal of forecasting the entire system is still several years away. Analogous with meteorology, various advances are needed, including: speeding up the models, models with higher resolution, data assimilation, and the ability to forecast the inputs that drive the models. SwRI has developed a parallelized model of the 30- to 500-kilometer altitude region including the mesosphere, thermosphere, and ionosphere. In the present project, the team seeks to improve the performance and accuracy of the existing model.

Approach - The new model is based on the experience gained in development of the SwRI parallelized Thermosphere-Ionosphere-Mesosphere-Electrodynamics (TIMEGCM) model. It will span the mesosphere, ionosphere, and thermosphere. The goal here is to address performance issues and model accuracy by implementing a patched-overset grid capability that is different from the structure of the existing model, yet the model will contain the same physics and chemistry as the earlier model. A secondary goal of the proposed work is to improve the input specification to the model by using the assimilative mapping of ionospheric electrodynamics (AMIE) technique to provide realistic high-latitude inputs.

Accomplishments - The new model is called ASPEN-2001 (for Advanced SPace Environment Model). This project led directly to the SwRI purchase of a new Beowulf cluster. The code is running on the new system, and speed tests have proved impressive. This particular system consists of 16 rack-mounted processor subsystems. Each processor subsystem has an 850-megahertz AMD Athlon-Thunderbird central processing unit with 500 megabytes of local random access memory, 20 gigabytes of local storage, and a 16-megabyte video card. Total system memory will then be 8 gigabytes with 320 gigabytes of disk space. All processor subsystems are connected by a Gigabit switch to each other, with the entire Beowulf system connected to the Institute Backbone by both ATM and 10/100 Ethernet connections.

The team developed a high-resolution trajectory analysis package for tracking ionospheric plasma parcels through the high-latitude regions. This development led to a successful study of ionospheric plasma transport. 

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