New IBM Supercomputers Boost NOAA Weather Forecasts

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration brings online two new IBM supercomputers capable of 69.7 trillion calculations per second to improve forecast accuracy and warning lead times for hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, floods, tsunamis, winter storms and other severe weather.

With the ability to make 69.7 trillion calculations per second, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's new supercomputers are gearing up to "improve forecast accuracy and extend watch and warning lead times for severe weather, including hurricanes, tornadoes, air quality, wildfires, floods, tsunamis and winter storms," the NOAA said in a statement Sept. 8. "The new supercomputers, based on IBM Power 575 systems, are four times faster than the previous NOAA system."

For images of the Stratus and Cirrus supercomputers, click here.

The supercomputers represent the final implementation of a nine-year, $180 million contract. The primary system is called Stratus, with a backup system dubbed Cirrus.

"This new technology will provide us with more sophisticated models of the Earth's land, ocean and atmosphere, giving meteorologists better accuracy and precision in both long-term and short-term forecasting," Jack Hayes, director of NOAA's National Weather Service, said in the statement.

IBM supercomputers are the most energy-efficient, according to Green500. Click here to read more.

According to the NOAA, "Higher computation speed allows meteorologists to rapidly refine and update severe weather forecasts as dangerous weather develops and threatens U.S. communities. Billions of bytes of weather observations are fed into the system each day, including temperature, wind, precipitation, atmospheric pressure, and other oceanographic and satellite information taken from the ground, air, sea and space."
"More accurate weather forecasts allow the National Weather Service to warn individual citizens and whole communities about impending dangerous weather well in advance so they can take action to protect lives and property," Hayes said.