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Technology / Hardware

IBM supercomputers to take local weather prediction global

If only IBM had moved faster on its latest project – perhaps those of us in the UK would have been better prepared for the heat wave currently making lives a misery in offices nationwide. The Weather Company, an IBM business, has new plans to help improve weather prediction globally, which would have given those who hate the heat a jump on what to expect in the temperamental British summer.

The Weather Company has collaborated with the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in it’s goal to predict mother nature.

The alliance will aim to develop cutting-edge models that will run on next-generation IBM supercomputing technology by bringing together meteorological science from The Weather Company, high performance computing expertise from IBM Research, OpenPOWER-based supercomputing systems, and NCAR’s community weather model.

Today’s operational global forecast models predict weather patterns down to regional-scale weather events, such as snowstorms and hurricanes. The new model could improve weather and climate forecasting by better accounting for the small-scale phenomena, such as thunderstorms, that can impact the weather.

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IBM supercomputers to take local weather prediction global

This new model aspires to run at a high space and time resolution, making it the first model to cover the entire globe – providing forecasts to areas of the world that have previously been underserved by existing regional weather models.

“IBM is one of only a few organizations in the world that has the capability to develop a model to run at this global, granular scale,” said Mary Glackin, head of weather science and operations for The Weather Company, an IBM Business. “As advocates for science, we embrace strong public-private collaborations that understand the value science brings to society, such as our continued efforts with UCAR to advance atmospheric and computational sciences.”

One of the first endeavors under this program will be to adapt NCAR’s Model for Prediction Across Scales (MPAS) community model to run more efficiently on next-generation computers. While regional models have been run at scales that predict thunderstorms for over a decade, the enormity of global models have made this challenging on a global scale.

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Enabling “convection-allowing models” on a global scale will not only enable short-term thunderstorm forecasts, but also lead to more accurate long-range forecasts days, weeks and months in advance.

“This is a major public-private collaboration that aims to advance weather prediction and generate significant benefits for businesses making critical decisions based on weather forecasts,” said UCAR President Antonio J. Busalacchi. “We are gratified that taxpayer investments in the development of weather models are now helping U.S. industries compete in the global marketplace.”
This article is from the CBROnline archive: some formatting and images may not be present.