NNSA eyes atmospheric conditions

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The US National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has sponsored the installation of a 336-processor computing cluster at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center (NARAC). The cluster allows consequences predictions for hazardous material releases to be completed 50 times faster than before.

NARAC provides atmospheric modelling predictions and analysis to emergency managers and decision-makers throughout the USA. These predictions inform actions that may be warranted to protect the public and the environment in the event of a hazardous release.

Potential accident scenarios include releases from nuclear power plants as well as transport and fallout from nuclear detonations or radiological dispersal devices. In 2011, NARAC was extensively used by the US government to model releases from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

'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 modelling products to a variety of users, from responders in Japan, to senior level policy makers in the USA. This strategic investment will allow us to continue to address all of their needs and advance this vital national capability.'