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Sept. 28, 2009: NOAA's New Supercomputers to Improve Long- and Short-Term Weather Forecasting

September 28, 2009
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WASHINGTON - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has completed implementation of the final phase of a nine year, $180 million contract with the installation of the newest generation of IBM supercomputers for weather and climate prediction. NOAA said the primary system, “Stratus,” and its backup, “Cirrus,” will allow it to run more complex models in an effort 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.

“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,” said Jack Hayes, director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “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.”

The new supercomputers, based on IBM Power 575 Systems, are four times faster than the previous system, with the ability to make 69.7 trillion calculations per second. NOAA said 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.

For more information, visit www.noaa.gov.

Publication date: 09/28/2009

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