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Green energy Cray supercomputer to power weather predictions

HPE is building a supercomputer that will be shared by four European meteorological services

HPE is set to build a supercomputer for United Weather Centres (UWC-West). The supercomputer will be used in a collaboration between the Danish Meteorological Institute; the Icelandic Met Office; Met Éireann, Ireland’s national weather service; and the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, to help the weather services issue timely alerts and improve public services.

Bill Mannel, vice-president and general manager of high-performance computing (HPC) at HPE, said: “As European nations continue to face challenges with new, dynamic weather patterns caused by climate change, weather forecasters will need powerful HPC capabilities to evolve weather models and simulate vast amounts of complex data to unlock accurate, real-time forecasts.” 

According to HPE, the shared supercomputer will help the four meteorological services improve weather modelling to generate more detailed forecast updates and make predictions every hour.

The overall advanced performance will also support research into extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, heavy rain, flooding and snowstorms, which are more often triggered by climate change. This will help provide timely warnings to alert local governments and communities to prepare for severe conditions and protect human lives, livestock and property.

“The UWC-West supercomputer is the first step in a powerful collaboration between weather services in Europe”
Marianne Thyrring, UWC-West

The system is being built to run a next-generation numerical weather prediction (NWP) model, called Harmonie-Arome, which has been developed under the Hirlam-Accord collaboration, a consortium of 26 national meteorological services across Europe and North Africa that is aimed at improving short-range weather predictions.

“Our countries have a long history of working together in weather forecasting – often the weather experienced in Ireland or Iceland today is the same weather experienced in Denmark and The Netherlands tomorrow,” said UWC-West chair Marianne Thyrring. “The UWC-West supercomputer is the first step in a powerful collaboration between weather services in Europe, and it is vital that we continue working closely together to improve our weather forecasts and understanding of how climate change will impact our countries.”

The HPE Cray system will feature what HPE describes as “powerful, end-to-end performance to speed time-to-predictions with higher resolution”. Based in an Icelandic Met Office datacentre facility, the supercomputer will be powered by local renewable energy. 

The supercomputer will be made up of two systems, one dedicated to operational weather forecasting, the other for broader weather and climate research, to harness complex atmospheric and oceanic data that helps model and simulate weather at a higher resolution.

It includes expanded storage to support and share complex workloads in modelling, simulation and artificial intelligence (AI) using the Cray ClusterStor E1000 storage system from HPE and HPE Data Management Framework. HPE Slingshot is to be used as a high-performance Ethernet fabric and HPE Performance Cluster Management for the systems management tool. The HPE Cray Programming Environment will be provided to support HPC application development.

The supercomputer is due to be installed in the second quarter of 2022 and expected to be operational by early 2023.

Read more about high-performance computing

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