Outlook fine for weather computer

25 Jul, 2015 02:00 AM
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With the new computer weather data will be available down to 1.5-square-kilometre areas in 2018

THE Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) says it will deliver more accurate forecasts and weather warnings after investing $77 million in a new super computer.

Global super computing technology company Cray will build the computer that has 16 times the power of the bureau's current super computer, 20 times the storage space and four times the servers.

Parliamentary secretary to the environment minister Bob Baldwin said the investment in the supercomputer showed a recognition that Australia needed to be "ahead of the game".


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  • "The greater the refresh rate, the greater the resolution, the integrity of the data; it's as critical for the individual who wants to have his weekend enjoyment as the farmer starting to plan next season's crops, as it is for the pilot bringing a plane in from overseas," he said.

    "Everyone has a requirement and for each of them in their own sense this is critical information."

    The new super computer, which is called the Cray XC40, will be housed in a secret location in Victoria and it will be operational for six years from 2016.

    It is BoM's ninth super computer and it will allow the bureau to have more accurate, region specific data.

    The supercomputer will also help the BoM move towards ensemble forecasting, a numerical weather prediction system which calculates the probability of weather events occurring based on small changes in conditions.

    BoM chief information officer Lesley Seebeck said the BoM can provide weather information in four-kilometre grids, but with the new computer weather data will be available down to 1.5-square-kilometre areas in 2018.

    "If you take our mobile website at the moment, you can see your location and then you can get more differentiated forecasts between say Port Melbourne and Melbourne," she said.

    "It comes down to providing the public with much more accurate forecasts. Running the ensemble model, you're getting better data and better resolutions ... that will continue to improve throughout the cycle of the super computer."

    The Cray XC40 is about one million times as powerful as the BoM's 1999 super computer, which at the time cost $8 million. It will use 865 kilowatts of electricity each day and be up for 99.86 per cent of the time.

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    READER COMMENTS

    Chick Olsson
    25/07/2015 7:12:36 AM

    Great investment by BOM. I have always found their long term forecasting basically pretty accurate in the majority of cases.
    Tim
    25/07/2015 3:58:59 PM

    Will the new super computer actually help them get it right. I have never seen anyone keep a job after getting things wrong so many times. I like the forecast rain in patches and fine elsewhere. I think I would rather be in the patch and by the way where is elsewhere??

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