The important role of HPC and data-intensive infrastructure facilities in supporting a diversity of Virtual Research Environments (VREs): working with Climate


As an integrated Tier 1 HPC and petascale Data Repository facility, the Australian National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) plays an essential role in developing and supporting VREs for a range of research communities and international federations across Climate, Weather, Environment and Geoscience. With needs and skills varying across research communities, our role goes beyond provision of infrastructure to include development and maintenance of software and expertise which assist users to fully utilise the HPC resources available. To support this diversity, we have championed a transdisciplinary approach with the aim of meeting the needs for a range of communities while also achieving the discipline-specific goals.

This capability has been developed through a series of collaborative projects which involved engaging with local users and research communities as well as integrating with international federations to adopt best practice solutions based on standards that can be applied across multiple domains.

This talk will focus on how we have addressed the needs of the Climate community, and how this has influenced the development of NCI’s infrastructure to support multiple VREs. This community has a diverse skills base and undertake a range of activities including model and code development as well as data analysis and visualisation. The infrastructure to underpin this diversity requires highly integrated research platforms suitable for demanding HPC and data-intensive analysis as well as the software and services to search the petascale, internationally distributed, data collections. The scale of these requirements needs a well coordinated national and international approach, including the use of standards and conventions in data management and services, cataloguing, file metadata, directory structures and publishing processes.

Uptake of this infrastructure by our diverse user community and use of Climate data formats and metadata conventions for the Geophysics and Earth Observations collections demonstrates that common infrastructure can be designed to meet the needs of multiple domains. Not only does this move us towards transdisciplinary research but it also helps to address the considerations of long term sustainability of VREs for individual communities.