National Nuclear Security Agency boosts radioactive material modeling abilities

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The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced in November 2012, that in response to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster they would install a 336-processor computing cluster at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).

The new National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center (NARAC) cluster would allow the agency to model accelerated predictions of how radioactive materials move through the atmosphere and terrain after release.  NARAC generates maps which display the predicted deposition of radioactive materials using current or forecast weather conditions and complex atmospheric transport and dispersion models, and refines initial predictions using field measurement data.

NARAC is used by emergency officials to decide if taking protective action is necessary to protect the health and safety of people in affected areas.

NARAC was used in 2011 to model the release of radioactive materials from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan after the March 11th earthquake and tsunami.  With the new cluster installation, 3-D calculation of radioactive material transported from Japan to the U.S. that required almost three hours of computer time can now be run in less than three minutes.

Additional software modifications are planned to provide results even faster in the future, said NNSA.

“I am very pleased to announce the completion of important hardware upgrades to the NARAC computing cluster,” said Joseph Krol, associate administrator for Emergency Operations. “Lessons learned from the Fukushima response highlighted the importance of providing rapid atmospheric modeling products to a variety of users, from responders in Japan, to senior level policy makers in D.C. This strategic investment will allow us to continue to address all of their needs and advance this vital national capability.”

Source: Government Security


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