SciSpark: Highly Interactive and Scalable Model Evaluation and Climate Metrics


Remote sensing data and climate model output are multi-dimensional arrays of massive sizes locked away in heterogeneous file formats (HDF5/4, NetCDF 3/4) and metadata models  (HDF-EOS, CF) making it difficult to perform multi-stage, iterative science processing since each stage requires writing and reading data to and from disk. We are developing a lightning fast Big Data technology called SciSpark based on ApacheTM Spark. Spark implements the map-reduce paradigm for parallel computing on a cluster, but emphasizes in-memory computation, “spilling” to disk only as needed, and so outperforms the disk-based ApacheTM Hadoop by 100x in memory and by 10x on disk, and makes iterative algorithms feasible.

SciSpark will enable scalable model evaluation by executing large-scale comparisons of A-Train satellite observations to model grids on a cluster of 100 to 1000 compute nodes. This 2nd generation capability for NASA’s Regional Climate Model Evaluation System (RCMES) will compute simple climate metrics at interactive speeds, and extend to quite sophisticated iterative algorithms such as machine-learning (ML) based clustering of temperature PDFs, and even graph-based algorithms for searching for Mesocale Convective Complexes.

The goals of SciSpark are to:  (1) Decrease the time to compute comparison statistics and plots from minutes to seconds; (2) Allow for interactive exploration of time-series properties over seasons and years; (3) Decrease the time for satellite data ingestion into RCMES to hours; (4) Allow for Level-2 comparisons with higher-order statistics or PDF’s in minutes to hours; and (5) Move RCMES into a near real time decision-making platform.

We will report on:  the architecture and design of SciSpark, our efforts to integrate climate science algorithms in Python and Scala, parallel ingest and partitioning (sharding) of A-Train satellite observations from HDF files and model grids from netCDF files, and the first parallel runs to compute comparison statistics and PDF’s.

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