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Supercomputing Upgrade Produces High-Resolution Storm Forecasts


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satellite image of storm

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the summer of 2013 launched two new IBM supercomputers, each 213 teraflops, running Linux on Intel processors. The additional computing power enables researchers to run more mathematics, and increases the resolution or detail on weather prediction maps from eight miles to two miles. "You can see so much more detail in the fields" that was not captured before, says the National Centers for Environmental Protection's Geoff DiMego.

The new model, called High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (Hrrr), gives forecasters more detailed information to work with when warning about a threat. The Hrrr model produces output every 15 minutes compared to the previous hourly rate, and forecasts up to 15 hours, with plans to raise that to 18 hours.

DiMego says when the output from the model is animated it produces "a much smoother display," and forecasters can detect rapid changes happening in severe conditions, information that would not be available with the standard outputs. He says the long-term goal is to move to an "ensemble" of predictions, which involves multiple models running with different formulations, and enables better capturing of all the events and variables in the atmosphere.

From Computerworld
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