Monday, June 13, 2016

India to Build Supercomputer To Better Forecast Monsoon

Complex chaotic systems are some of the toughest things for the human mind to understand and one of the biggest challenges for model makers. (another of the big challenges is model makers recognizing their own biases)

On a related subject, the current trend in supercomputer construction is to use a combination of CPUs and GPUs connected by superfast links which puts the Graphics Processing Unit manufacturers such as NVIDIA in an enviable position. Both the planned-to-be-fastest-in-the-world 'puter at Oak Ridge and the current 2nd fastest at ORNL use this approach as does the just upgraded Swiss machine (7th fastest).
From Reuters:

India's colonial-era monsoon forecasting to get high-tech makeover
India's forecasting of the monsoon - the crop-nourishing seasonal rains that are the lifeblood for farmers in the country of 1.3 billion people - is getting a high-tech makeover.
Jettisoning a statistical method introduced under British colonial rule in the 1920s, India's meteorology office is spending $60 million on a new supercomputer to improve the accuracy of one of the world's most vital weather forecasts in time for next year's rains.

The new system, based on a U.S. model tweaked for India, requires immense computing power to generate three-dimensional models to help predict how the monsoon is likely to develop.
Experts say better forecasting could help India raise its farm output by nearly 15 percent, by helping farmers tweak the best time to sow, irrigate or apply fertilizer to crops and if rains fail plan state-wide measures. This would be a major boon for a country already either the world's biggest or second-biggest producer and consumer of rice, wheat, sugar and cotton.

"If everything goes well, by 2017 we'll make this dynamical model operational by replacing the statistical model," said M. Rajeevan, the top scientist in the ministry of earth sciences, which oversees the weather office on a 30-acre campus in the heart of New Delhi.
The June-September rains are relied on to replenish reservoirs, recharge aquifers and for half of all farmland that does not have irrigation.

2016 monsoon onset

2016 monsoon onset

Many areas receive more than 70 percent of their annual rains during the monsoon and plentiful rains means more money in rural communities, sustaining some 600 million people and boosting demand for an array of goods and services.
Rajeevan declined to name the companies the bureau was talking to obtain the new supercomputer, but said it would be 10 times faster than the existing one supplied by IBM...MORE
HT: The Verge

India currently has many (35?) supercomputers with the fastest being the Cray machine at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, ranked 95th in the world.