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Scientific Programming
Volume 8 (2000), Issue 1, Pages 39-47

Key Elements of the User-Friendly, GFDL SKYHI General Circulation Model

Richard S. Hemler

Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory/NOAA, P.O. Box 308, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08542, USA

Received 11 October 2000; Accepted 11 October 2000

Copyright © 2000 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Over the past seven years, the portability of the GFDL SKYHI general circulation model has greatly increased. Modifications to the source code have allowed SKYHI to be run on the GFDL Cray Research PVP machines, the TMC CM-5 machine at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and more recently on the GFDL 40-processor Cray Research T3E system. At the same time, changes have been made to the model to make it more usable and flexible. Because of the reduction of the human resources available to manage and analyze scientific experiments, it is no longer acceptable to consider only the optimization of computer resources when producing a research code; one must also consider the availability and cost of the people necessary to maintain, modify and use the model as an investigative tool, and include these factors in defining the form of the model code. The new SKYHI model attempts to strike a balance between the optimization of the use of machine resources (CPU time, memory, disc) and the optimal use of human resources (ability to understand code, ability to modify code, ability to perturb code to do experiments, ability to run code on different platforms). Two of the key features that make the new SKYHI code more usable and flexible are the archiving package and the user variable block. The archiving package is used to manage the writing of all archive files, which contain data for later analysis. The model-supplied user variable block allows the easy inclusion of any new variables needed for particular experiments.