NOAA Establishes $27.6M Supercomputing Center in West Virginia

NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco has announced a $27.6 million American Reinvestment and Recovery Act investment to build a new state-of-the-art supercomputer center in Fairmont, W. Va.

Lubchenco was joined by U.S. Rep. Alan B. Mollohan for a recent ribbon-cutting ceremony for the NOAA Environmental Security Computing Center (NESCC), which is geared to develop and improve the accuracy of global and regional climate and weather model predictions.

"This state-of-the-art supercomputer will not only give NOAA a powerful new tool in climate and weather modeling and service delivery, it will also cement north central West Virginia's reputation as a growing high-tech center,” said Rep. Mollohan. “This facility will help anchor the I-79 Technology Park for decades to come.”

“Any time we are able to enhance our resources and technologies that help our professionals better predict the weather, it is a direct benefit to our citizens,” said Gov. Joe Manchin. “I am pleased that NOAA is investing in West Virginia, and I look forward to the opportunities this center will bring to the state.”

Through a collaborative partnership between NOAA and the U.S. General Services Administration, the joint-agency team successfully acquired a leased facility that would meet NOAA’s challenging technical requirements and sustainable design goals. On Aug. 31, GSA awarded a 20-year lease to Vertex Non-Profit Holdings, Inc. NOAA will occupy approximately 54,000 square feet in the I-79 Technology Park Research Center in Fairmont until the year 2031. Renovation activities will start before January 2011, and the center is expected to be fully operational in fall 2011.

“Demands for more detailed climate and weather information continue to grow from all sectors of society, so NOAA must invest in technology now to meet future needs,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “The additional computing power at the new center allows NOAA to strengthen its ability to provide the right information at the right time for people to make decisions at all levels. This capacity is part of a suite of climate services NOAA is developing that will help individuals, communities and businesses to make informed decisions in a changing climate.”

“We are thrilled that Fairmont was selected by the GSA and NOAA as the location for such an important technology investment,” said James Estep, president and CEO of the West Virginia High Technology Consortium Foundation. “We have worked hard over the last decade to make the I-79 Technology Park the kind of location that could compete for the types of investment represented by the NESCC. This selection is just more validation that we have been successful.”

The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (ARRA) was signed into law by President Obama on Feb. 17, 2009. The act provided $170 million in funds for NOAA programs for climate modeling activities, including procurement of the supercomputer and research into climate change.

ARRA funds will also help improve the Vertex-owned Research Center building for construction of the raised-floor data center and associated electrical, mechanical, plumbing and networking infrastructure, and for architectural/engineering design, construction management and commissioning services.

The NESCC will house one of two new large-scale, high-performance computers funded through the ARRA. In May 2010, NOAA awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract with $49.3 million of ARRA funds to the Computer Science Corporation to implement and operate the NESCC supercomputer system.

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