“U.S. supercomputers for weather and climate forecasts get major bump”
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, June 28, 2022
News & Features: Weather, Supercomputing/IT, Forecasting, Modeling
“Twin supercomputers Dogwood (pictured here) and Cactus are the newest additions to NOAA’s weather and climate operational supercomputing system. Located in Manassas, Virginia, and Phoenix, Arizona, respectively, each supercomputer operates at a speed of 12.1 petaflops — three times faster than NOAA’s former system. .”
Today, NOAA inaugurated the nation’s newest weather and climate supercomputers with an operational run of the National Blend of Models. The new supercomputers, first announced in February 2020 with a contract award to General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT), provide a significant upgrade to computing capacity, storage space and interconnect speed of the nation’s Weather and Climate Operational Supercomputing System.
“Accurate weather and climate predictions are critical to informing public safety, supporting local economies, and addressing the threat of climate change,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “Through strategic and sustained investments, the U.S. is reclaiming a global top spot in high-performance computing to provide more accurate and timely climate forecasts to the public.”
“More computing power will enable NOAA to provide the public with more detailed weather forecasts further in advance,” said NOAA Administrator, Rick Spinrad, Ph.D. “Today’s supercomputer implementation is the culmination of years of hard work by incredible teams across NOAA — everyone should be proud of this accomplishment.”
“This is a big day for NOAA and the state of weather forecasting,” said Ken Graham, director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “Researchers are developing new ensemble-based forecast models at record speed, and now we have the computing power needed to implement many of these substantial advancements to improve weather and climate prediction.”
Enhanced computing and storage capacity will allow NOAA to deploy higher-resolution models to better capture small-scale features like severe thunderstorms, more realistic model physics to better capture the formation of clouds and precipitation, and a larger number of individual model simulations to better quantify model certainty. The end result is even better forecasts and warnings to support public safety and the national economy.
The new supercomputers will enable an upgrade to the U.S. Global Forecast System (GFS) this fall and the launch of a new hurricane forecast model called the Hurricane Analysis and Forecast System (HAFS), slated to be in operation for the 2023 hurricane season pending tests and evaluation.
In addition, the new supercomputers will enable NOAA’s Environmental Modeling Center — a division of the National Weather Service’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction — to implement other new applications created by model developers across the U.S. under the Unified Forecast System offsite link over the next five years.
The twin Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) Cray supercomputers, called Dogwood and Cactus, are named after the flora native to their geographic locations of Manassas, Virginia, and Phoenix, Arizona, respectively. They replace NOAA’s previous Cray and IBM supercomputers in Reston, Virginia, and Orlando, Florida. The computers serve as a primary and a backup for seamless transfer of operations from one system to another.
Each supercomputer operates at a speed of 12.1 petaflops, three times faster than NOAA’s former system. Coupled with NOAA’s research and development supercomputers in West Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi and Colorado, which have a combined capacity of 18 petaflops, the supercomputing capacity supporting NOAA’s new operational prediction and research is now 42 petaflops.
According to GDIT, Dogwood and Cactus are currently ranked as the 49th and 50th fastest computers in the world by TOP500.
About the Author:
NOAA is an agency that enriches life through science. Our reach goes from the surface of the sun to the depths of the ocean floor as we work to keep the public informed of the changing environment around them.
From daily weather forecasts, severe storm warnings, and climate monitoring to fisheries management, coastal restoration and supporting marine commerce, NOAA’s products and services support economic vitality and affect more than one-third of America’s gross domestic product. NOAA’s dedicated scientists use cutting-edge research and high-tech instrumentation to provide citizens, planners, emergency managers and other decision makers with reliable information they need, when they need it.
NOAA’s mission to better understand our natural world and help protect its precious resources extends beyond national borders to monitor global weather and climate, and work with partners around the world.
See also in Internet Salmagundi:
- “How two new supercomputers will improve weather forecasts“
- “U.S. to triple operational weather and climate supercomputing capacity“