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Met Éireann teaming with three countries to create supercomputer to advance weather forecasting

Planned to be operational by early 2023, the new supercomputer will provide high-resolution weather forecasts.

Image: Eamonn Farrell via RollingNews.ie

MET ÉIREANN IS joining forces with national weather services in Denmark, Iceland and the Netherlands to jointly operate a new supercomputer that will bring significant advancements to short-term weather forecasting.

With global temperatures projected to increase further over the next decades, weather patterns are expected to become more extreme and more challenging to forecast, Met Éireann has said.

The United Weather Centres-West collaboration is a scientific and technical response to this challenge, with four countries jointly operating a supercomputer that will allow more timely and accurate weather forecasts and warnings to help protect life and property.

Planned to be operational by early 2023, the new supercomputer will provide high-resolution weather forecasts that will be used to:

  • Provide more accurate and timely weather warnings that will allow emergency services to prepare for potential impacts of severe weather.
  • Help people and communities make better decisions to protect lives, homes and businesses when impacted by extreme weather events such as heatwaves, flooding or heavy snow.
  • Enable the agricultural sector to make earlier decisions to protect and better manage their crops and livestock.
  • Provide more timely and focused information to marine communities.
  • Support the transport and energy sectors with more detailed and timely weather information to allow increased economic and environmental benefits.

Modern weather forecasting is based on Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) which requires vast amounts of data from weather observations, atmospheric conditions and satellite imagery, as well as significant processing power only available through High Performance Computing (HPC).

By combining national resources, it is aimed that the new UWC-West supercomputer will represent a huge leap in weather forecasting capabilities to each country.

It will perform 4,000 trillion calculations per second and handle millions of weather observations every 24 hours – this will produce detailed weather forecasts every hour, which is especially critical ahead of severe weather.

“The UWC-West supercomputer is the first step in a powerful collaboration between weather services in Europe which will allow Ireland to meet the growing challenge of forecasting high impact weather events with much greater confidence,” Met Éireann director Eoin Moran said.

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“Our countries have a long history of working together in weather prediction research. Denmark, The Netherlands, Iceland and Ireland bound the North East Atlantic Area and are now combining resources to best predict the weather that impacts this region,” Moran said.

“This is particularly important in the context of the influence of climate change on the predictably of weather systems as the new supercomputer will allow for the incorporation of the most up to date weather forecasting methodologies.”

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