New analysis shows that the water scarcity being experienced in southeast Australia started up to 15 years ago.

While the results from the work by senior CSIRO researcher, Dr Albert van Dijk, may not surprise many people, it provides scientific evidence of the shift. The long-term trend in total water availability in soil and groundwater between 1980 and 2008 (red areas have experienced declines over this period, blue areas increases). The dry state of the catchments show that a return of rainfall does not automatically mean streamflows will return to previous rates.  Credit: CSIRO

The finding follows the first ever national and comprehensive analysis of 30 years of on-ground and satellite observations of Australia's water resources.

Dr Albert van Dijk told the the Sixth International Scientific Conference on the Global Energy and Water Cycle in Melbourne yesterday that the analysis provides a valuable, new insight into the country's water balance.

"The data shows the first signs of diminishing water availability in Australia appeared somewhere between 1993 and 1996 when the rate of water resource capture and use started to exceed the rate of streamflow supply," Dr van Dijk said.

Dr van Dijk's work is part of the water information research and development alliance between the CSIRO's Water for a Healthy Country Flagship and Bureau of Meteorology in which scientists are building an observation and modelling system that will provide water balance estimates across Australia.

Long-term on-ground records and 30 years of satellite observations are combined with models that integrate and analyse the data within a powerful supercomputer system that provides comprehensive, detailed and reliable information about the nation's water resources.

"If this technology had been available to us in the mid-1990s, the onset of dry conditions could have been detected earlier," Dr van Dijk said.

"The results of the study underscore the importance of good water information for water resource planning."

The data also reveals that the impact of the drought on Australia's current water resources is broadly consistent with both the historical trend and climate change predictions.

"Parts of Australia have had record low rainfall the last several years, but our records aren't very long and the drought may still be within natural limits."

"What makes the situation appear so much worse is that the sixties and seventies were quite wet. That's also when we started capturing river flows in large reservoirs for our growing cities and irrigated agriculture. In retrospect it appears we have become over-reliant on what is now looking like 'bonus' rainfall during that time."

The observation system that is developed will assist the Bureau in conducting regular water resource assessments and produce national water accounts.

Voltaire Switches Accelerate Top 4 Supercomputers on Green500 List Demonstrating Performance and Efficiency Leadership

 

Voltaire Ltd’s switches are connecting the world’s most energy efficient supercomputers, according to the findings of the latest Green500 list announced by Green500.org. Voltaire switches serve as the high-performance interconnect for the top 4 and 26 of the top 100 most energy efficient supercomputers on the list.

“Voltaire is known for delivering performance as evidenced by our InfiniBand leadership position on the TOP500 list of the world’s most powerful supercomputers, said Asaf Somekh, vice president of marketing, Voltaire. “This new Green500 list showcases Voltaire’s strength in delivering energy efficient fabrics for high performance systems. Voltaire’s unique combination of performance and efficiency is important for commercial data centers that need to reduce costs and energy usage without compromising on performance.”

Voltaire Grid Director InfiniBand switches deliver 20 or 40 Gb/s bandwidths and low latency with less than 5 watts per port power consumption.

“Insufficient power and cooling continue to dominate as the greatest data center facility problems,” said John Phelps, Research VP, Gartner. “In a recent poll of infrastructure and operations managers, combined power and cooling deficiencies were identified as the greatest data center facility problem for 67% of users.”

The Green500 (www.green500.org) is a list ranking the most energy-efficient supercomputers in the world and serves as a complementary view to the Top500 (www.top500.org) list of the most powerful supercomputers.

More information about Voltaire’s Grid Director InfiniBand switches is available at http://www.voltaire.com/Products/InfiniBand/Grid_Director_Switches and a free whitepaper, “Reducing Data Center Energy Costs Up to 50% by Consolidating and Virtualizing Your Network” is available at http://www.voltaire.com/unifiedfabric.

Over the last six years Enabling Grids for E-sciencE (EGEE) has grown to become the world's largest multi-disciplinary grid infrastructure, with tens of thousands of users. In Barcelona this month the flagship EC-funded project meets for its final annual conference. Next year will see the inauguration of EGEE's successor, the European Grid Initiative (EGI), and this pivotal gathering of the grid community will allow for reflection on the successes of the project, as well as marking a major step forward on the path towards a nationally-focused sustainable grid infrastructure, to benefit all European researchers for years to come. The transition from EGEE to EGI represents a welcome move from short-term project funding to sustained support on a national and international level, which will enable users to continue using grid infrastructures – now and in the future.

Successes have been numerous and EGEE already caters for a multitude of disciplines. This final annual conference is an opportunity for the user communities to showcase their work and achievements, and demonstrate the power of grid technology. There will be live demonstrations from diverse scientific research fields, including many from medical research - notably neuGrid, studying degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, RadioTherapy Grid optimising the use of radiotherapy in cancer treatment and EUAsiaGrid helping research into monitoring future flu pandemics.

While the medical community has benefited greatly it is not the only one to increasingly rely on grids. The computing power and data storage offered by EGEE has allowed scientists to think big - from modelling weather using the grid with WRF4G, predicting the distribution of marine life with AquaMaps, to EUAsiaGrid’s software helping authorities to cope in the aftermath of an earthquake. The breadth and quality of scientific research supported by EGEE is a testament to the versatility of computing grids.

It is this versatility that has attracted industry. EGEE has worked with the business community since the early days of grids. Each year, the dedicated business track increases the collaboration between EGEE and industry.  This year is no different, demonstrating the evolution of grid computing by highlighting not only key areas such as cloud computing and service level agreements, but also unveiling prime examples of technology transfer from science and academia to commercialisation.

With cloud computing generating increasing excitement in the business community, EGEE is working to integrate the two services. Two sessions at EGEE’09 will present a range of projects working on grids and clouds, such as StratusLab which is bringing grids and clouds together to create benefits for both science and industry.

As in previous years, the conference has attracted major grid computing figures from around the world as keynote speakers, including locally-based speaker Gonzalo Merino from PIC, who is in charge of Spain’s Tier-1 data centre for the Large Hadron Collider, Jennifer Schopf, from the National Science Foundation’s Office of CyberInfrastructure in the US and Kostas Glinos, who leads the Géant & e-Infrastructures Unit of the Directorate General for Information Society and Media at the European Commission. EGEE’09 will also be a key milestone in the preparations of pan-European projects defined within the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI), presented at the conference by Professor John Wood, chair of the European Research Area Board and former Chair of ESFRI.

Daniel Pedro knew when he was a sophomore at Santa Fe Indian School that he wanted to be an anthropologist. He also knew that as a Zuni, he would not be able to touch human remains – a common task for physical anthropologists.

“It was kind of a barrier,” said Pedro, a 20-year-old freshman at the University of New Mexico-Gallup. “I had to find a way to work around it.”

Pedro began to look for that way through his participation in the New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge. The Challenge aims to teach teams of middle and high schools students how to use powerful computers to analyze, model and solve real world problems and awards prizes in various categories.

Pedro hit on the idea of studying the faces of living puebloans in search of consistent similarities and then projecting that data onto the past as a way to identify and repatriate skeletal remains. As stated in the executive summary of his project, “My goal … is to make it easier for anthropologists to figure out which tribe/pueblo the remains belong to on the computer, instead of disrespecting Native customs and damaging the skull.”

An early advisor, UNM Curator of Human Osteology Heather Edgar, told Pedro that the people of the pueblos, both present and past, were too mixed to make the sort of determinations he was seeking. Nevertheless, she was impressed by his inventive approach to problem solving, and encouraged him by giving advice on how to go about his project. She also gave him a medical diagram of a human skull with which to start his studies.

“We need a Native perspective in anthropology, and especially a perspective that comes from working with living communities,” Edgar said.

Pedro’s unique project soon attracted several other advisors and mentors.

“They were impressed by the fact it was a student who wanted to do this kind of work, and a high school student and a Native American at that,” Pedro said.

Pedro began to work in a computer program called StarLogo, which allowed him to rotate two objects side by side and compare the objects in different profiles.  He had decided to concentrate on the human skull, comparing shapes that represented skulls. His goal was to create a method for anthropologists to determine which tribe or pueblo a skull might belong to with only minimal handling. The result was an entry for the Supercomputing Challenge called “Scan of the Past.”

“He learned a lot about the mathematics of 3D computer graphics and the rotation and scaling of 3D objects on the computer,” said Irene Lee, who oversees a grant program at Santa Fe Institute, and was previously lead facilitator for the SFI-MIT Adventures in Modeling program in Santa Fe when she worked with Pedro.

For this phase of his project, he received the Judges’ Choice Award for “Integrating Computation into Anthropology” from the Supercomputing Challenge.

The second phase of his work was on a new version of the “Scan of the Past,” with the help of Steve Guerin of Redfish Group, a Santa Fe-based business that specializes in data mining and visualizing. Guerin helped Pedro during his senior year construct a proxy data set, which would allow him to practice clustering techniques and classification algorithms, or in other words, construct real world data. Pedro learned how to integrate actual facial data collected after he photographed and studied 15 landmarks on the faces of 45 individuals – fellow students whom he persuaded to participate in his project. Generally, says Edgar, studies are made with as many as 50 landmarks on a human skull, but because Pedro was concentrated on faces, his study was limited to far fewer.

Although this phase of the project did not earn an award, he did receive an award from the Supercomputing Challenge in 2008-2009 for creating a graphic poster and creating a logo.

“Daniel took on a computational challenge that was meaningful to him and his community,” Lee said. “He is a great role model of a self-directed student researcher. He found an interesting, unsolved problem he could address. He overcame many obstacles and persevered with the project over several years.”

“It was great to have help from so many mentors,” Pedro said. “I had wondered if my project would be taken seriously because this was something really new.”

After graduating from high school in 2008, Daniel went on to enroll in UNM-Gallup, where he is studying, among other subjects, anthropology with Teresa Wilkins, professor of anthropology. Last year, he got a taste of the museum work he hopes to make a career by working at A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center in Zuni, where he learned how to care for exhibits and worked with the photo collection. He also got some good career experience this past summer by participating in the Conference on Archaeoastronomy of the American Southwest, Camp Verde, Ariz., where, with researcher Anna Sofaer, writer, artist and founder of the Solstice Project, he presented a poster on a new interactive computer model of the Chaco Canyon Sun Dagger site.

His work with Sofaer helped him see that Native Americans “did marvelous things,” and reinforced his idea that, when studying historic sites, “It’s best to listen to Native American oral traditions about what happened at these sites. If we can integrate these traditions with what we can learn from modern technology, we can create another level of thinking.”

As Pedro continues his journey toward a bachelor’s degree in Southwest Studies at UNMG, and beyond, to a Ph.D., the intention that inspired his high school project will be very much with him. He wants to continue to explore ways to use technology to repatriate human remains and relics to the tribes they belong to. At the same time, he wants to build on what he learned from his high school project and his work with the Solstice Project to bring computers into anthropological work in a way that will help Native Americans understand who they are.

“As an example, time may overtake the original Sun Dagger site and it will become part of nature, but a replica of the model will be there to teach how Native Americans used the solstice at Chaco, and how they measured time,” Pedro said.

Wilkins applauds Native students like Pedro who are looking to apply “sophisticated technology to [solve] real problems,” and echoes his hope that today’s Natives will become empowered to make their own identifications of remains in order to repatriate them. She also believes that such an applied approach to anthropology as Daniel Pedro’s project undertook may be “highly significant in empowering Native people to conduct their own research.”

Pedro also hopes his vocation as anthropologist will help show Native Americans that eventually, they should not have to take classes to “be native.” After all, he points out, most of the non-natives who have taught American Indians about their history and culture cannot have complete information because, “There is a limit as to how much we can share. Keeping the culture or religion with the community keeps our identity within the community, rather than having it spill out.” Ideally, he says, those studying and interpreting the research some day will be Natives who will not only share this knowledge with their communities, but also mediate what is shared with non-Natives.

Members Work for Global Collaboration in the Fight against Cyber Crime

The rise of cyber attacks - and the call for global collaboration on solutions that reduce the threat - has led the United States Secret Service to become the sixth government agency to join Transglobal Secure Collaboration Program (TSCP).

The move reflects a growing awareness of the need for a united effort and common solutions to defend against the advanced persistent threat of cyber attacks against nations and commercial organizations alike. High-profile attacks, such as GhostNet and the U.S. electrical grid infiltration, create the imperative for government agencies and private industry to work together on viable and robust solutions that protect electronic information regardless of where it resides.

The U.S. Secret Service joins the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), U.K. Ministry of Defence, Netherlands Ministry of Defence, and France's Network and Information Security Agency (ANSSI), to provide critical insight into the real-world applications of solutions and processes that can protect mission-critical information and intellectual property from theft by politically motivated cyber criminals.

TSCP is the only government-industry partnership dedicated to helping member organizations equip themselves with the necessary means to combat computer-related crimes. As a member of TSCP, the U.S. Secret Service adds to its already formidable portfolio of cyber defense initiatives, including an Electronic Crimes Task Force and Electronic Crimes Special Agent Program.

"As the Secret Service continues to seek new and innovative ways to combat the increasing threat presented by transnational criminal organizations, our ability to partner with the private sector and academia has become the key to our success," said Michael P. Merritt, assistant director of the U.S. Secret Service.  "Membership, on both the Governance Board and the Executive Committee of TSCP, is an honor, and the Secret Service is looking forward to becoming a trusted partner with all TSCP members."

Membership with TSCP offers an extension of resources, expertise, and capabilities, creating a global network of government agencies, aerospace and defense (A&D) companies, and software vendors who unite under the TSCP mantle to collaboratively address the most critical issues in cyber security today.

"Our mission is to foster secure collaboration through federation so that information can be protected while being shared in a global environment. In an era characterized by persistent cyberthreats, we reach out to U.S. and international governments and A&D companies to bring them together to develop solutions that protect information for global collaboration, so business gets done - around the corner and around the world," said Keith Ward, TSCP chairman. "The U.S. Secret Service is a welcome addition to this effort, bringing additional expertise and insight into best-practices for defending against the growth of sophisticated cyber attacks."

In addition to government agencies, TSCP members include BAE Systems, Boeing, EADS/AIRBUS, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Rolls-Royce and Finmeccanica.  Partner members include Exostar.

 For more information, please visit www.tscp.org.

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