What Geoscientists Want: Short and Sweet Commands with Eco-friendly Data

A CISL seminar for NCAR/UCAR staff

Feb. 16, 2022

1:00 – 2:00 pm MST


Speaker: Dr. Charlie Zender, UC Irvine



The twin pressures to achieve mind-share and to harness available computing power drive the evolution of geoscientific data analysis tools. In the mid-1980s we analyzed one or a few naked arrays at a time, and now researchers routinely intercompare climatological ensembles each comprising thousands of files of heterogeneous variables richly dressed in metadata. Powering this analytical revolution are more intuitive and concise analysis commands that target more standardized and brokered self-describing data stores. How can tool developers leverage these trends to successfully imagine and build the analysis tools of tomorrow?

This talk also highlights recent improvements in compression speed and interoperability that geoscientists can exploit to reduce our carbon footprint. Storage accounts for about 40% of datacenter power consumption which drives greenhouse gas emissions and environmental consequences. Precision- or information-preserving lossy compression can further reduce the size of losslessly compressed data by 10-50% without compromising its scientific content. Modern lossless codecs accelerate compression and decompression with no penalty in compression ratio. These proven technologies can help geoscientific data centers become significantly greener.


Charlie Zender is an atmospheric physicist and educator at UC Irvine where he has been a professor of Earth System Science since 1999, and of Computer Science since 2012. His group studies the distribution and fluxes of energy and trace species that interact with Earth's atmosphere on fast timescales. This includes dust storms, biomass burning, snow melt, pollution, wind-energy, and data analysis techniques for scientists. Prior to joining UCI in 1999, Dr. Zender earned degrees in Physics at Harvard (AB 1990), and in Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder (PhD 1996). The Advanced Studies Program at the National Center for Atmospheric Research hosted his postdoctoral research on chemistry and climate. Dr. Zender regularly participates in climate-related activities of the Department of Energy, NASA, and the National Science Foundation. He has served on the California Climate Change Advisory Committee, testified to Congress on the effects of aerosols on Arctic climate, and ... survived being the parliamentarian of the Parent Teacher Association at Vista Verde Elementary School.




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