On February 20, NOAA announced computing upgrades that will enable new and improved weather and climate forecasting. Significant upgrades to supercomputing capacity, storage space, and interconnect speed of its Weather and Climate Operational Supercomputing System will keep the agency’s supercomputing capacity on par with other leading weather forecast centers around the world.
Why We Need More Supercomputing Capacity
As good as weather forecasting has become, it can still go much further. That’s why this item caught my eye.
The paths of tropical storms can be notoriously fickle. Harvey, for instance, made landfall three times. Hurricane Rita caused officials to order the mass evacuation of 3.7 million Houstonians, only to have the storm veer east at the last minute. The evacuation created a disaster in itself. Forecast inaccuracies also lower the confidence of those contemplating lowering the level of area lakes in advance of approaching storms.
Triple Capacity, Double Storage and Interconnect Speeds
This increase in high-performance computing will triple the capacity and double NOAA’s storage and interconnect speed. It will help NOAA create better forecast model guidance. The keys: higher-resolution and more comprehensive Earth-system models that use larger ensembles, advanced physics, and improved data assimilation.
“We will restore America’s international leadership with the best weather forecasts, powered by the fastest supercomputers and world-class weather models,” said Neil Jacobs, Ph.D., acting NOAA administrator.
Two new Cray computers, an operational primary and backup, will be located in Manassas, Virginia, and Phoenix. The computers each have 12 petaflop capacity. They will become operational by early 2022 after code migration and testing.
New Total of 40 Petaflops
Coupled with NOAA’s other research and development supercomputers, which have a combined capacity of 16 petaflops, NOAA’s new prediction and research computing capabilties will reach 40 petaflops.
A petaflop is a unit of computing speed equal to one thousand million million (1015) floating-point operations per second.
Earth Prediction Innovation Center
The new computers will help advance research and development under NOAA’s emerging Earth Prediction Innovation Center (EPIC). They should make the U.S. Global Forecast System the best model in the world.
“Through EPIC, we have an opportunity to regain our footing as a world leader in global weather prediction. The system will foster partnerships with university and industry scientists and engineers to advance U.S. numerical weather prediction,” added Jacobs.
EPIC will make it easier for developers across all sectors to collaborate on improving the nation’s weather and climate models. It leverages combined skills and resources and lowers barriers for interaction. It does that through the use of cloud computing and a community modeling approach called the Unified Forecast Systemoffsite link.
Current Acquisition Will Lay Ground for Future Advances
“The National Weather Service ran a competitive acquisition to ensure we have the supercomputing power needed to implement all the great modeling advancements we anticipate over the next several years,” said Louis W. Uccellini, Ph.D., director of the National Weather Service. “This is an exciting time for all of us in the weather research and operations community, with bold changes on the horizon. We are making sure NOAA is ready.”
Posted by Bob Rehak on 2/27/2020 based on information provided by NOAA
912 Days since Hurricane Harvey