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Mega computer to put more byte into weather forecasts

delhi Updated: Jan 15, 2010 00:25 IST
Satyen Mohapatra
Satyen Mohapatra
Hindustan Times
high performance computing system

Sceptical about the weatherman's predictions?

You may soon change your stance, with more accurate predictions coming your way.

Having acquired a high performance computing system (IBM P6), the Indian Meteorological Department is poised for a “quantum jump” in its weather forecasting capability.

The Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Prithviraj Chavan is going to launch the system today, the 135th Foundation Day of IMD.

Director General IMD Ajit Tyagi told HT, “It will give us the capability to go from existing five-day forecasts to seven-day forecasts with an accuracy level of 70 to 75 per cent."

The short range forecast at higher resolution at district levels will be more accurate at around 80 per cent, he added.
Just what is it that makes this mega computer so sharp?

For one, it has a 500 terabyte memory (one terabyte (TB) equals 1011 bytes). To get a better sense of the numbers: a PC with the memory of 3 gigabyte (109 ) is considered superior.

One of today's fastest parallel computing systems, the new computer will be able to run high resolution global and regional weather prediction models on the enormous data it receives.

“Till now we used to assimilate a lot of data but had to manually plot and analyse it, we did not have the capability to process it in real time. The new computer is set to change all that,” said Tyagi.

He pointed out by 2012 the data size is likely to increase enormously, with data flowing in from 4,000 automatic weather stations and automatic rain gauges, 50 Doppler radars, GPS based weather balloons which monitor temperature, humidity and wind velocity upto 30 kilometer height and INSAT 3 D, Meghatropiques and Oceansat 2 satellites.