NOAA Completes Upgrade to Weather and Climate Supercomputer System

The Department of Commerce and NOAA expanded the capacity of the nation’s Weather and Climate Operational Supercomputing System (WCOSS) by 20% this week.

The increased computing power and storage will help improve forecast model guidance for years to come and allow for other weather prediction advances.

“Our investment in high-performance computing will pay off with better US weather modeling,” said Michael C. Morgan, Ph.D., assistant secretary of commerce for environmental observation and prediction. “Forecast model upgrades made possible by this increased computing capacity will bring improved and timely forecasts and warnings that better protect life and property.”

Faster supercomputing will allow NOAA to run more complex forecast models while increased storage space will enable more data to be fed and assimilated into the system. These improvements will permit upgrades to NOAA’s weather forecasting systems and models over the next few years, including:

  • Upgrades to the US Global Forecast System will make it higher resolution. The model’s horizontal resolution will improve to nine kilometers, compared to 13 in the current version. This upgrade will help smaller-scale features to be seen and simulated, improving model accuracy and overall model performance.
  • A new Rapid Refresh Forecast System, which will allow for larger ensembles with more data included, providing a measure of certainty in a particular forecast that can lead to better decision-making. These updates also allow for more advanced high-resolution data-assimilation techniques.
  • Upgrades to the Global Ensemble Forecast System, which will more accurately capture what is known as radiatively active aerosols to better model emissions such as wildfire smoke, dust, and fog.
  • Expansion in compute power and storage, which will provide operational capacity to implement research and development advancements made through NOAA’s Earth Prediction Innovation Center.
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